AN: I would like to note the various styles that are used in this story:
Bold, italic – Song Lyrics
Bold, italic - Please note that the ones in the brackets are Doubt's words, or Rei's internal thoughts, however you want to look at it.
"Italic" – the words of my poem (later in the story, and yes, they are in quotes)
Italic
– is just normal thoughts or emphasis.

I hope this helps to explain things somewhat. In addition I have indeed rewritten this part of the story as I wasn't very happy with its ending.

AaAaA

"The liquefaction of the right breast has been completed," a nameless NERV technician reported.

"We'll start cleansing the bodily fluids from three zero on schedule," his partner replied as he glanced down at his clipboard.

Both men tried to avoid stepping in the various puddles of fluid as they continued with their work, neither achieving the task. Dr. Akagi had to hide her disgust as the puddle they stepped in made a significantly loud squish and their boots came away with pieces of Angel hanging off them.

"How are you?" Dr. Akagi asked with a shudder at the sight before her as Misato came up beside her, her arm in a cast and sling. Ritsuko could already feel a headache starting, and the day had just begun too.

"I'm not hurt enough to stop doing my job. I couldn't lie in bed during an emergency like this. So what did they end up doing with Shinji?" she asked as the two women watched the cleanup efforts or the attempt thereof.

"It's my understanding that they had to cut the escape hatch open with a laser cutter and remove him forcibly. He's in the hospital right now and expected to wake soon, but it doesn't look good for him staying at NERV."

"This sucks," Misato said with a sigh as she turned away from the mess before her. "I'm afraid that this time…"

AaAaA

"…he's royally screwed! He can't talk his way out of this, idiot." Asuka complained as she leaned against the wall in the NERV hospital, just staring at the drab gray wall in front of her.

"Is he alright?" Rei asked a hint of concern in her voice that went unnoticed by her companion, but she silently noted that Ikari would have noticed it instantly.

"He wasn't injured, if that's what you mean. He's probably imagining that it was all a dream." Asuka said with a huff as she crossed her arms over her chest.

"A dream?" Rei asked, confused as to why Ikari would view the recent events as a dream.

"Yeah, don't tell me you don't dream either!" Asuka said as she turned to glare at her companion before turning away just as quick.

I know how to dream Second Child. I have had dreams before, or were they nightmares? Rei silently replied, unwilling to share that information with the redhead sitting beside her. Instead they just sat in silence, lost in their own thoughts about the boy they were just discussing.

AaAaA

I was blinded by dark desire
Over time I've been through it all
I'm crying my share of tears

Shinji was awakened by a rough hand shaking him.

"Pilot Ikari, get up. You are being taken to a NERV detention cell for your actions following the Fourteenth Angel." A Section 2 agent said as he pushed Shinji's clothes toward him.

Rising slowly, Shinji moved to dress, taking little notice that Touji was in the bed next to his, unconscious but still alive if not all together in one piece. Once he was done he was ushered from his hospital room and to one of the detention cells in the bowels of NERV.

After being handcuffed and placed in the cell, all he could do was wait. Wait and think. He had all the time in the world to think about what had happened. He thought about the sick feeing that he had when Unit-04's Entry Plug had been crushed in his hand. He thought about how he had failed in the one thing that defined him, piloting Eva. But most importantly he thought about the same thing that had occupied his mind that night on the rooftop when he came to the conclusions about his worth.

He thought about the conclusions he had made that night and the fallacy that they contained. Recent events had forced him to reevaluate his need of others and their need of him. While he still viewed himself as worthless and unnecessary he realized that he needed the others, even if they had no need for him. As selfish as it was it was still a reason to remain by their side.

He needed Misato for she was like a mother to him; she was the only true role model he had ever had. He had to stifle a snort at the sad irony of Misato being his role model. But the humor didn't last long as the memory of her face after he was burned came to mind. No, he needed her; he needed her care and concern. He needed her love.

Asuka was like a sister to him, he valued that relationship, even if she did abuse him physically and emotionally. But isn't that the way of all sibling relationships? He idly wondered how Asuka would react to knowing she was like the sister he never had. She'd probably beat him a bit for it then retreat to her room, grumbling about how big a pervert he was.

Touji and Kensuke, while not only being his friends, even if they really didn't need him, he needed them. They gave him a sense of normalcy that had been missing from his life. They were the outlet that allowed him to just be a normal teenager for a few moments. Yet again this was a sad commentary when considering the individuals and what they gave to him. Touji had hit him the first time they'd met and Kensuke was totally obsessed with Evangelion and all things related, it's strange to think they could offer anything a sense of normalcy.

Gendo he really didn't need in any way, shape or form, as far as Shinji was concerned the Devil could have him and he wouldn't shed a tear.

This finally brought him about to Rei. His previous ruminations on the subject were forgotten in the light of recent events. When her Eva was damaged during the fight against Unit-04 he had been scared, he was afraid that she had been hurt or worse. This fear drove him into battle to protect her, even if that battle had been taken away from him later on. The decision to fight had been his, and he didn't regret protecting her for a moment. He sighed as he once again toyed with the thought that he loved her. It may have been his imagination but since he had been released from the hospital for his burns, not that it was that long ago, she seemed to be nicer to him. She actually seemed to begin conversations with him on her own. While he could mark this off as his imagination, he really didn't want to. He hoped, deep down inside that she was opening up to him. He knew that he loved her, he had told her and the world as much in his poem. But even though she had rejected his feelings he still couldn't stop seeing her, even if she would never be anything but a friend. Lord how it hurt to even think those words! She was his weakness, his kryptonite if you will. She is the reason he piloted Eva in the beginning and the reason he continues to do so. He would gladly give up his life to keep her safe; if that isn't love then he didn't know what was.

Ironically he knew that she would be the reason he stopped piloting, if they would use his own Eva to destroy the Entry Plug of another Unit then what stopped them from using his Unit against Rei's or even Asuka's? Nothing, and that was the reason he came to the conclusion that he did, he would give up Eva and leave Tokyo-3. He only hoped that it was the right choice, he hoped that everyone would understand his reasons. He hoped that Rei would forgive him for his act of cowardice.

He had no illusions that what he planned wasn't cowardly, he knew it was and he had accepted it. But he also knew that it was the only thing he could to safe guard those he cared about.

Some time later, Shinji had no idea how long as time had lost all meaning in the darkness of his cell, a man came for him.

"Shinji Ikari," he said as he slurred his name in distaste, turning it into an insult. "Commander wants to see you."

AaAaA

Standing some distance from his father, hands cuffed in front of him, Shinji waited.

"Disobeying orders. Using an Eva for personal vendettas. Childish intimidation. These are all criminal offenses. Do you have anything to say?" Gendo asked without removing his hands from in front of his face.

"Yes," Shinji replied, even though he was thinking that the man before him was a hypocrite. After all, wasn't the entire Evangelion Project his Father's personal vendetta? Shinji wasn't even going to start to think about the childish intimidation that the man resorted to, not to mention the fact that he was a minor and should technically not be charged with any of these crimes since he had no right to be fighting this war in the first place.

"I don't want to pilot an Eva anymore and I don't want to stay here either," Shinji said as he stared directly ahead of him. His earlier decision and ruminations still playing through his head even as images of Unit-04's crushed Entry Plug raced about reminding him of why he chose this path.

"Well then, you may leave," Gendo said as he turned his attention away from the boy not at all surprised that this was his decision. He was always running away from something.

"Yes. I'll go back to my old teacher," Shinji said in a voice dead of any emotion, turning his back on his father.

"So you're running away again?" Gendo said, unable to resist the opportunity to put down his son. "You disappoint me. I assume that we will never meet again."

"Yes," he replied in the same dead voice. "That's my intent."

He then walked from the office of the man that called himself his father for what he hoped would be the last time.

Even before Shinji had left his office Gendo was on the phone.

"This is me. Erase the Third Child's REM. Rei will become Unit-01's designated pilot, with the Dummy plug as backup."

He then hung up, effectively sealing the fate of the former pilot.

AaAaA

Standing outside the train terminal, Shinji faced Misato as she stood next to the NERV car that had brought them to the station, the driver waiting patiently for her to return.

"I don't think Asuka will be coming. She must be pretty disgusted with me," Shinji said as he looked at Misato.

"Yes, she didn't even ask me to say goodbye to you," she replied while watching his face for a reaction of some sort. She was scared when she saw none aside from the small smile that graced his lips; he was becoming like Rei, or worse, his father.

"That sounds like her. That's good." He said with the small smile still in place, pleased that Asuka would continue to be herself no matter what.

"It's going to be hard if you keep hiding your anger like that." Misato gently scolded.

"That's your philosophy, Misato. I can't live the way you do."

This made her pause for a moment before she could continue on, was she really trying to push her way of life onto him? This thought left her as soon as it came and she was able to continue on.

What can I do
Will I make it through
I must be true to myself

"As I'm sure you know, there will be a lot of restrictions placed upon your activities from now on."

"Yes, I know that. But..." he began but cut himself off.

"Yes," she prodded hopefully, praying that he'd change his mind and go back to NERV with her.

"Let me ask you one thing? Why was Touji chosen to be the Fourth Child?" he asked, the question having been burning in his mind since he woke up in the hospital.

"It would seem that all of the students in your class are fourth level candidates, Shinji. I just found out myself that it was yet another elaborate fabrication."

"All of them, all of my classmates?" he asked in shock, anyone of them could have been chosen instead of Touji, even Kensuke. Shinji struggled to keep the shock off his face especially at the thought of how Kensuke would react if he was chosen, he'd probably pass out. His musings were interrupted when Misato began speaking again.

"Shinji about Suzuhara, that was a mistake that can't be mended with words alone. But I have to be honest with you; I was projecting all of my dreams, hopes and purpose onto you. I know that it's been a huge burden for you. But we and by that I mean everyone at NERV, have had no choice except to place our future in your hands. I want you to remember that."

"The end justifies the means?" he asked with a slight bitterness in his voice. He was never a fan of that theory, since the means almost always brought pain and suffering to innocent people.

"Yes, that's how it is. And another thing, I'll be leaving your pass-code to headquarters and your room as they are."

"What's the point? Get rid of them. It's over now, I won't pilot that thing." He said as he waved his hand, effectively wiping away any possibility of him piloting again. This also effectively ended their conversation. Misato got back in her car and Shinji went to wait for his train.

Once back in the car Misato began to think about the Shinji she had just left. This is the real Shinji talking. I've never heard him sound so certain about anything before.

As the car vanished, Shinji stood on the platform waiting for the train. After several long minutes he looked up at the platform sign just as an automated message began to play.

A special state of emergency has been declared for the Tokai region. All residents must evacuate to their designated shelters immediately. A special state of emergency has been declared for the Tokai region...

Even as he watched the display board changed from its normal Special Express Train to New Atsugi Departure Time 1338 to instead display the horrifying phrase Emergency Route along with an arrow pointing away from the station.

"An Angel..." he breathed out in a whisper before the reality sunk in and he began looking for a shelter.

AaAaA

Shinji could only stare numbly at the severed head of Unit-02 where it had crashed into the shelter he had been hiding in, killing some of those around him.

Recovering from his shock he quickly followed the other surviving refugees out of the damaged shelter, but he couldn't help but stop and stare at the armless and headless body of Unit-02 as it still stood following the Angel's attack.

He didn't even register the other occupants of the shelter leaving for another undamaged refuge.

"Asuka..." he said in a whisper, horrified at the damage before him

"Hey Shinji."

He turned to the sound of the familiar voice. Standing a few feet from him, watering a patch of watermelons was Kaji.

"Kaji. What are you doing here?" he asked as he approached the older man.

"That's my line. What are you doing here, Shinji?" he asked with a small smile as he continued to water.

"I, I decided that I'd never pilot an Eva again. Since I decided that..." he broke off and turned his head to the side, unable to look Kaji in the eye.

"Oh really?" he replied with feigned interest. "Well to answer your question, since my other job became public knowledge, I'm off the combat roster. So, here I am sprinkling."

"At a time like this?" Shinji asked in shock.

"What better time? Although I'd rather be between Misato's melons, this is a place I'd like to be when I die." He said before smiling at the thought of Misato and her melons.

"Die?" Shinji replied, not having thought about that, yet knowing that there was always the possibility.

"That's right." Kaji said with a nod, "It is said that if an Angel comes into contact with Adam, who lies sleeping beneath this very ground, humanity will be eradicated in the Third Impact. The only thing that can stop this is the one thing that has power equal to an Angel's, Evangelion."

Even as they stood talking, the one-armed form of Unit-00 rose from the ground carrying an N2 mine.

"Ayanami! With no rifle!" Shinji all but shouted in panic, fear washing over him as she was completely unprotected against the Angel.

As he and Kaji watched on, Rei ran toward the Angel, the N2 held against the Eva's body. When Central Dogma noticed the N2 there was panic. Even as they watched she engaged the Angel and penetrated the AT Field with the mine. She was sadly too late as a bony cover enclosed the core even as the N2 went critical.

There was a blinding flash that engulfed the Angel and Eva. As they regained their vision Shinji and Kaji watched as both the Eva and Angel remained. Before Rei could react the Angel had severed her Eva's head.

Turning to face Kaji he didn't even flinch as the Angel blasted into the NERV pyramid.

"Shinji, the only thing I can do is stand here and water. But you, you have something that you can do, that only you can do. Nobody is forcing you. Think for yourself and make that decision by yourself. Think about what you have to do now. Think about no longer having any regrets."

Shinji took a moment to think about this before looking back at the beheaded Unit-00, his only though was a small prayer that Rei was ok. Before Kaji could even blink the boy had run off toward NERV, his backpack left lying in the dirt.

AaAaA

Inside the Command Center things were a flurry as they tried to get Unit-01 to accept the Dummy Plug. Gendo Ikari stood on the catwalk to Unit-01's cage as he monitored the activation. Behind him the radio chatter from the bridge was piped through the cage's speakers.

"Direct hit on the third foundation," Aoba shouted.

"The final armor plate has melted." Hyuga said as he typed on his keyboard, hoping the information was wrong, yet knowing it wasn't.

"Damn it! It's open; the main shaft is completely open!" Misato yelled even as she turned to Ritsuko for the status on Unit-01.

"Isn't Unit One ready yet?" The faux-blonde yelled over the intercom.

"It's still refusing the Dummy plug." One of the techs replied.

"It's not working. No response detected." Another tech responded even as the bridge received the same information.

"Keep trying. Repeat the process from step 1-0-8." Gendo ordered from his position on the catwalk, knowing that it would work eventually, but did they have the time to wait for that eventuality? No, what they needed was a miracle.

"I'll pilot it!" Shinji yelled as he all but fell into the cages, out of breath from his run.

"Why are you here?" Gendo said as he half turned toward Shinji, his miracle in disguise.

Voiceless Screaming
Calling to me inside of my heart
Voiceless Screaming
Now is the time I got to speak out

"I'm here because I'm the pilot. I'm the pilot of Unit-01, Shinji Ikari." Shinji said as he struggled to catch his breath. Gendo merely smiled a small unnoticed smile. The pawn had returned to the chess board.

"Very well."

AaAaA

"We've been breached! Target is inside the main shaft! It's advancing." Aoba yelled over the sounds of the klaxons.

"Where is it heading?" Misato asked as she stopped her pacing around the bridge.

"It's advancing directly towards Central Dogma!" Hyuga said after a moment of silence as he checked his sensors.

"It's coming here." Misato said before giving an order she never thought she'd have to give. "All personnel evacuate."

"All personnel evacuate. Repeat, all personnel evacuate, this is not a drill." Hyuga announced over the intercom.

Even as the bridge crew began to evacuate the wall in front of the bridge began to tumble in, followed behind by the Angel.

For a terrifying moment Misato had a chance to stare into what would pass for the face of the Angel. Her moment was shattered as the Angel began to draw energy into a blast. Before the Angel could fire an Evangelion broke through another wall and knocked the Angel into the Cages.

"Huh..." Misato said as she blinked as the Angel before her vanished with the Eva.

"Eva Unit-01! Shinji!" She yelled.

As soon as Shinji had the Angel in his grip he let out a war cry, letting out all his frustration at his friends and those he cared about being hurt.

Knocking the Angel to the ground he raised his left arm to punch but was stopped when the Angel blasted his arm from the Eva's body, the blood spraying onto Gendo as he watched the battle from the catwalk.

"Ahhh!" Shinji screamed as he grabbed his left arm in pain.

Damn neural connections! He thought before focusing on the battle with the Angel, pushing past the pain and channeling it into his battle. His visage turned dark as the hate took over him and was channeled into the Eva. To put it mildly, he looked like a man possessed.

"Misato!" He yelled as he struggled to hold the Angel on the catapult that would take him to the surface.

"Launch the 5th catapult!" Misato screamed as she dashed to the terminal that would initiate the action, racing in the event the operator wasn't fast enough. They were.

"Agggh!" Shinji screamed as the g-forces helped to press him against the Angel, his hand holding the Angel's head against the wall as they rose.

Reaching the surface they wasted no time in fighting. Blow for blow they fought, the insanity still holding onto Shinji even as he began to laugh like a madman as he toyed with the Angel.

Following the intense blows, neither opponent was in perfect condition, wounds were visible on both combatants, even the Angel.

After trading blow for blow with the Angel, he was tired of the games. Shinji was ready to make a final strike when all went dark.

"Huh? Energy reserves depleted! What the hell?" He said even as that indicator winked out.

"Unit-01 has completely drained its reserve! The backup power supply isn't working!" Maya yelled as she read the data on her portable screen. Central Dogma entirely deserted, they now stood watching the battle on the surface.

"Move, move, move! Why won't you move? Move now or there's no point to any of this!" Shinji screamed as he tried to make the Eva move.

Despite his pleas and curses, Unit-01 wouldn't start. The Angel took the chance to attack. Using its paper like arms it pierced the armor on Unit-01's chest before sending a small blast into the opening, creating a direct path to Unit-01's core.

Methodically it began to beat the core with its arms, knowing that a hit would eventually crack it and that Unit-01 couldn't fight back. So in light of this the Angel took its time and savored the imminent death of its opponent.

Inside the entry plug Shinji continued to beg the Eva to move, his pleas growing more frantic as the walls of the plug began to crack.

Before his impending death one thought flashed through his mind, no regrets. But even as this too passed, he became aware of a small trickle of power surrounding him, and then he knew nothing but the darkness.

Shinji's eyes became blank as the Eva began to reactivate; all around him the once red lighting turned a pale blue.

Lifting its right arm it caught the Angel's paper arm which streamed past the Eva's fingers. Closing its hand on the streamers and wrapping them around its fist, the Eva pulled the Angel to it, meeting it face to face before kicking it away. In its hand were the remains of the Angel's arm.

Placing the paper to its own severed arm, the Eva began to regenerate the lost limb, only this time it looked frighteningly human.

"It's reactivated," Maya said in shock without having to even look at her screen.

"Oh my God..." Misato said as the Eva's mouth broke free of the restraints and let out a roar that shook those watching it. Following its roar the Eva turned its attention to the recovering Angel. Its mouth taking on a sickening grin, it charged the Angel.

"This is impossible, it must be wrong. How can Shinji's sync-ratio with Unit-01 be over 400 percent?" Maya said after double checking the readings.

"It's finally happened; the Eva is aware." Ritsuko said in resignation, disgust, and fear.

The scene before them was enough to make a hardened soldier sick to their stomach. Unit-01 had merely lifted its right hand and drove the Angel back in a spray of its own blood, away from NERV. As the Angel tried to rise the Eva was on top of it, holding its head down as it began to feast on the Angel. Tearing into its chest and pulling chunks of flesh off before chewing and swallowing, then returning for more, effectively eating the Angel alive. While the entire time the Angel struggled to free itself.

As the blood and gore splashed the surrounding area, Unit-01 leaned back on its haunches and roared again before returning to its meal, feasting on the now motionless Angel.

"It's eating the Angel..." Misato said as she struggled not to throw up.

"The S2 organ, she's taking it into herself," Ritsuko said as she realized what was happening.

"Eva Unit-01 is... is..." She began only to train off as the Eva began to dismember the Angel, tearing its arms off first in a shower of blood, bone and gore.

Maya was unable to contain it and threw up, something that all watching wanted to do.

The sounds of tearing ligaments and snapping bone the only thing masking Maya's heaves, but soon that awful sound ended and the silence drew the attention of all present.

"It's breaking free!" Ritsuko shouted as the Eva stood from the Angel's remains and stretched, forcing the armor that bound it to shatter and fall to the ground, giving out a muted roar as it did so.

"Free of what?!" Hyuga asked as he comforted Maya, patting her back as she continued to vomit.

"Those plates weren't just armor, they were also restraints. Those bindings allowed us to control it. But now the Eva is removing the web that binds it to our will. The beast inside the Eva is free at last." Ritsuko explained.

"Unit-01's awakened and then set free. SEELE sure won't stay quiet for this. Was this part of your scenario, Commander Ikari?" Kaji asked with a smirk as he watched the Eva roar its victory and defiance.

"It's begun at last," Fuyutsuki said as he and Gendo watched the carnage on a monitor.

"Indeed, this is the beginning," Gendo replied with a full blown smirk as all the pieces of the plan were falling into place.

Soon Yui, soon. He thought as the Eva continued to roar.

Voice of faith, I'm starting to realize
Now my eyes can see
I have gone so far
I'm feeling breath of life

AaAaA

"So what you're saying is that Shinji has been absorbed into the Eva?" Misato asked as she stared in shock at Ritsuko Akagi. Several days after the incident with the Angel, Ritsuko had called a meeting of the Bridge Bunnies, the Evangelion Pilots, Misato and the Commander.

Around her there was a nearly mirrored look on all the assembled faces, save that of the Commander, Maya and Ritsuko. The rest of the bridge bunnies were just as shocked as Misato was. Hell even Asuka's jaw had dropped open in shock. Rei was even wearing her concern plainly visible on her face, a fact she didn't even try to hide from the Commander.

"That's correct," Commander Ikari said from his position at the head of the table, his hands folded before his face.

"Is there anything we can do?" Misato asked when the shock had died down somewhat.

"Well, knowing that the Eva is refusing any ejection signals does limit the possible salvage options." Akagi replied with a small sigh.

"What do you mean salvage? Oh my … you're going to try to salvage Shinji? Wait, define 'salvage'!" Misato said with a hint of anger in her voice.

"Well, theoretically Shinji's life force still exists in there." Akagi replied in a slow tone, hoping that her old college friend would understand; she also hoped that the others gathered would understand as well.

"Ha! And will you be respecting that life this time?" Misato asked, remembering the option to retrieve Unit-01 after it had been swallowed by the Twelfth Angel.

"Losing Shinji is out of the question now," Ritsuko said with an empathic shake of her head.

"Oh, I don't know. What NERV wants is Unit-01 as their tool not Shinji," Misato all but yelled, forgetting the fact that Gendo was still in the room.

"I don't deny it," Ritsuko replied, casting a worried eye over Gendo, who for his part seemed to have all but tuned out the conversation at present. "In the past that was indeed our view, but currently Shinji is the only pilot capable of synchronizing with Unit-01, so his retrieval is of the utmost value."

"Our assumption is that Shinji's body lost its ego border and that he's now floating in the entry plug, in quantum form," Maya answered after checking over her notes. While she had helped to come to that conclusion to hear it openly stated still shocked her, especially the implications of the word 'salvage'.

"You're saying that Shinji has shifted into a form we can't see?" Asuka asked into the silence that followed.

"Yes. The LCL has chemically altered him to something very similar to the sea water of primitive earth," Maya answered her with a nod.

"In fact it's almost identical to the primordial soup we've duplicated in laboratories," Ritsuko filled in.

"Primordial soup..." Rei said in a whispered voice, lost in her own thoughts even as the conversation continued on around her.

"Yes. All of the substances which compose Shinji are still preserved in the plug and his soul exists there as well. In fact his ego image is giving a sort of substance to his plug suit," Ritsuko said, answering the pale girl's question, surprised that she had spoken at all.

"In other words, the salvage operation must both reconstruct his body and return his soul into it," Maya added.

"Is that possible?" Asuka asked with unhidden surprise.

"Possible," Ritsuko said with a shrug. "But with the Magi's support, yes it is."

"This is all theoretical stuff you're talking about, isn't it? You won't know what will really happen until you do it." Misato accused as she turned hateful eyes on the person she once thought was her friend.

AaAaA

Several days had passed since the meeting discussing Unit-01 and Shinji.

Now as Unit-01 stood in its cage, held in place by the restraints, Rei stood on the cat walk staring as the Eva.

"Why?" she whispered in a soft voice, so quiet that a person standing beside her wouldn't have heard it, yet somehow she knew the Eva did.

"Why?" she once again asked the silent mecha. "Why have you taken him from me? Just as I was beginning to understand what emotions were."

She was silent after that; she just stood staring into the dormant eyes before her. Her own red orbs were pleading for Shinji to be returned to her.

"Rei?"

She turned to the voice off to her right. Standing before her was Misato.

"What are you doing here?" Misato asked the girl.

Rei was silent for a moment as she stared at the Major, her mind developing her response.

"Thinking," she said softly as she turned back to face Unit-01.

"Thinking? About Shinji?" Misato teased as she approached and stood next to Rei. Now it may have been her imagination, but Misato could have sworn that there was a faint blush on Rei's cheeks.

Needless to say Misato was thrown for a loop by Rei's reply to her teasing.

"Yes."

A simple word to be sure, but coming from Rei it held so much more meaning than that. Misato could hear the fear and uncertainty in her voice as she stared at the behemoth that had absorbed Shinji.

"Rei, I know that you and Shinji have been getting closer. I've been watching you two for a while. I know this is hard on you, but I want you to know that if you need it, I'm here for you." Although Misato highly doubted that Rei would even talk to her again, she had to make the offer, for Shinji's sake.

"Why?"

"Why what?" Misato asked, confused by the question.

"Why would you care?"

"I care because you are important to Shinji, and he's important to me. I care because I care about you too."

This answer surprised Rei; never had anyone told her they cared about her. She thought about the poem that Shinji had written and quickly rephrased her pervious statement; she had never had anyone say they cared about her and actually meant it. She hadn't thought much about the meaning of the poem, she had of course pondered on the words themselves and their individual meanings, but she hadn't read the subtext of his words until now. True he had admitted he felt for her, but he had stated boldly that he cared, and not for the first time either. There was also the time with the Fifth Angel when she had smiled for him and only him.

With a sudden jolt of realization Rei came to the conclusion that feeling for someone and caring for them were two entirely separate things. You could feel all manner of emotions for a person, but when you cared for a person, it was so much more powerful then mere feelings.

Staring up at the silent Eva Rei didn't hear Misato bid her a farewell. Rei lost track of how much time had passed since the Major's departure, and to be honest she didn't care. She stood still, staring at the Eva and silently begging it to return Shinji to her.

And I'm looking for love to reach
Someone I want to touch deep inside
Light shines on my sight of doubt
Don't be afraid
Move forward one step
Willing mind is what I have found at last

AaAaA

Floating. Drifting.

Those were the sensations that he was aware of. He knew he couldn't open his eyes, it was as though he didn't even have any, yet still he knew where he was, more or less.

Shinji Ikari was floating in warmth. That was his universe and he was happy to remain there. Never had he ever been so at peace. In all his life he had never been this happy.

Life? Did he even have a life? Or had this warmth around him been eternal, holding him in its embrace since time immemorial.

Yet even in the warmth, there was darkness. He couldn't see anything nor did he want to try. He just wanted to float here forever.

AaAaA

Almost a month after he was absorbed into the Eva the work continued to try and bring Shinji back. The Eva cage was a flurry as technicians performed last minute checks and prepared the equipment for the task at hand.

The tension on the bridge was palpable, no one wanted to fail and lose Shinji, but for each the reason was different, some because it was their job, others because they pitied him, and still fewer because they actually wanted him back.

"All of the probes have been inserted. Electromagnetic radius is fixed at 0 -3." The announcements came over the loud speakers on the bridge.

"Ego-border pulse connection is complete," Maya said as she logged the information into the Magi.

"Roger. Start the salvage operation," Ritsuko said as she crossed her fingers and began to silently pray.

"Initiating program," Hyuga said as data flashed across his terminal. "Transmitting first signal."

"Signal received, no rejection," Aoba confirmed as he received the feedback from Hyuga's signal.

"Proceed to send the second and third signals," Maya called from her own station as she continued to monitor the data, hope growing in her heart as each step was successfully completed.

"Subject's catharsis is normal. Destrudo cannot be confirmed," a nameless and all but faceless technician called from their own station.

"Affirmative. Shift the subject to stage 2," Ritsuko said as she released a breath she didn't even know she'd been holding.

"Come on, Shinji," Misato begged as she watched the proceedings.

As all the attention was turned to the Eva and monitoring the salvage operation, no one noticed that Rei had entered the cages and now stood before Unit-01, a piece of paper clutched in her hand even though it was all but unnecessary.

"Shinji," she said quietly to the Eva, her presence ignored by the few technicians located in the cage as they struggled to retrieve Shinji.

"I wanted to read something for you. It is the poem that you wrote for me." She paused as she considered her next words. "I realize that my actions that day were not the correct ones. Since you have been gone I have had time to think. I have come to realize that I want to know more about my emotions and I want you to help me."

Had any one been paying her any attention that would have been started to hear the oft times considered mute girl say anything more than a few words and even more so when considering who and what they were directed at. But then again, love does have a strange way of changing a person.

She stood looking up at the face of the Eva before she began to read:

"Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul,
A look into a person's very core."

AaAaA

His liquid universe was disturbed by a shockwave that came from no where and everywhere.

Shinji was confused as waves formed from the shockwave and began to toss him about.

What's happening? He thought as he began to sink beneath the surface. He didn't fear drowning; he knew the warmth wouldn't let that happen. Yet he still felt fear of the unknown as another shockwave shook his world and he was pulled deeper beneath the surface.

AaAaA

"It's no good! His ego borderline is frozen into a fixed loop," Maya said as she frantically typed at her console, trying desperately to prove her statement wrong.

"Try to irradiate the wave patterns from all directions!" Ritsuko moved to stand behind Maya's station even as the younger woman followed her orders. "My God! All of the radiated signals are being dropped in Klein space."

"What does that mean?" Misato frantically asked when she noted the panic of the bridge crew.

"It means... we failed," Ritsuko said even as her shoulders slumped in defeat.

"Huh?" Misato said as elegant as ever in her confusion.

"In your eyes, I see your pain,
I see all your hurts and fears.
I feel your loneliness when you look at me,
It eats away at my soul, your pain joining us together as one."

After a moments thought Ritsuko came up with another plan that may work. Standing tall she put it into action.

"Abort intervention! Reverse the tangent graph! Set the addition value at zero!"

"Right!" Maya said with renewed determination, the expression on Dr. Akagi's face giving hope to all present.

"Destrudo reaction in the Q area. Pattern is sepia," Aoba confirmed all the while asking himself what exactly he had just said.

"I've got a change in the core pulse too!" Hyuga said as a message flashed on his screen. "Plus 03 confirmed!"

"The water temperature is rising," the nameless tech called out before relaying the readings. "36, 38, 41, 58, 76, 97, 106..."

"Maintaining current condition has priority! Stop that back-flow!" Ritsuko yelled even as she typed on the console before her, trying to prevent the worst from happening.

"Right," Maya replied with equal vigor as her Sempai. "Plus 0.5, 0.8. This is all wrong! I can't stop it!"

"The internal pressures overloading. It's over the predicted value. It's going into the danger zone."

"What's going on?! Don't you want to come back? Why Shinji?" Ritsuko silently whispered to the Eva even as she continued to work.

AaAaA

Far beneath the surface of his watery world he felt safe from the shockwaves. But even as this thought crossed his mind a noise came to him. At first it was like the sound of a small flying insect, faint and indistinct. Yet it grew louder as the shockwaves grew in power.

Behind the insect sound there was another sound. Someone was whispering in his ear, their arms wrapped around him from behind, hugging him to them. A sensation washed over him and he knew that he knew the being holding him. He fought with his mind to come up with an answer even as the insect sound grew louder and more distinct.

Finally amid the barrage of sound from both sources he knew who was holding him.

Mother.

At this realization her whispers became solid words, no longer hidden from him.

"Shinji, my son. I'm proud of you. Now is you time to rest. Your work on Earth is done. Stay with me and rest forever."

Oh how he wanted to tell her he would, but every time he tried to make that clear he was interrupted by another voice. The faint insect he realized was in fact another being calling to him.

It too cried for him to stay with them. But the difference in the two was that the other one calling him wanted him to stay with them and to be by their side in the real world. The second voice was begging him to live.

Even as the two voices grew in strength he recognized the second one. It was a voice he never thought he'd hear calling him. Rei.

"Shinji, please return to me. Please be with me. I need you."

In that instant all became clear as knowledge of what happened came back in a wave of sights, sounds, and feelings. He remembered the Angel entering NERV, him fighting it and then the Eva losing all power. And now he knew where he was, he was in the Eva. His mother was in the Eva! And she wanted him to stay with her while Rei wanted him to return.

With the two voices trying to sway him their way he knew that he'd have to chose one of the two, and he'd have to do it soon.

AaAaA

"Your soul calls to me,
Asking, seeking, begging for a reason to go on.
I see the path your silent tears have followed,
How I ache to reach out and rub the crystalline drops from existence,
How I wish you would let me."

"The Eva," Maya began her tone one of shock, "it's rejecting the signal."

"Shinji's ego formation is disintegrating in the LCL," Aoba stated even as his fingers flew across the keys, sending the info to the other stations.

"Pressure in the plug is increasing," Hyuga reported.

"Abort all operations. Power down, Power down!!" Ritsuko yelled in panic.

AaAaA

"Shinji, stay with me here, be safe and protected forever."

"Shinji ..How I ache to reach out and rub the crystalline drops from existence,
How I wish you would let me.
. please return to me."

Listening to the two beg him to stay with them, he made his decision.

AaAaA

"It's not working. The plug is being ejected." Maya said, the fear evident in her voice as all eyes turned to watch the cylinder spin out of the back of the Eva and eject the LCL into the surrounding air.

"Shinji!" Misato screamed even as the LCL was ejected onto the catwalk.

"Let me be the one to soothe your pain,
Let me be the one to comfort you.
Show me your loneliness and I'll show you mine,
Together we can find a reason."

Even before Misato could leave the command center and rush to the cage she was stopped in mid-step by the sight of Rei kneeling in the ejected LCL, tears running down her face as she silently wept into the fluid that had been Shinji.

All on the bridge are transfixed by the scene below them. None had ever seen Rei so much as smile, but to see her now in tears was too much. Most were checking to make sure they hadn't been taken to an alternate dimension.

But at the realization that what they saw before them was real, most were heart broken for the young girl, she had lost her only friend and was now grieving over what remained of him.

Rei was oblivious to the stares of the people that had slowly started to surround her, most of them were technicians, but a few staff from the bridge had joined them, Misato being one of them.

She continued to cry into the LCL, her tears diluting the foul smelling liquid. Rei only stopped crying long enough for a shuddering sob to rake across her fragile body, tearing her soul even further.

But even as all hope seemed lost for her a sound to her left drew her attention. She turned toward it for it was a strange wet thump. Her eyes went wide as she took in what had made the sound. There before her, lying naked and hopefully only unconscious was Shinji, his body having been reformed and phased out of the body of the Eva.

Before anyone else could move Rei was by his side, clutching his body to her as she checked for a pulse. To her great relief she found one, weak but still a pulse. Pulling his body into her lap she wrapped her arms around him and cried into his shoulder. After a moment of crying she moved her mouth to be beside his ear, struggling to speak through the tears, this time of joy.

"Let me be the one to hold you when you cry,
Let me be the one you turn to.
Above all, I ask, let me be the one to love you."

She concluded, having memorized the poem before hand.

"Shinji, I do love you. Please wake up, please come back to me," She whispered.

After that she was unable to say any more as he was pulled from her by the paramedics and rushed to the infirmary. Rei stood and began to follow, only to collapse into the arms of Dr. Akagi, the emotions having taken their toll on her.

Voiceless Screaming
Calling to me inside of my heart
Voiceless Screaming
Now is the time I got to speak out

AaAaA

Light slowly began to creep into the world of one Shinji Ikari, pushing the enveloping darkness back into the shadows of the subconscious. Gone was the warmth of the liquid universe, in its place was a slightly warm yet still slightly chilly environment.

His vision became a blurred haze of whites, grays, and blacks. His hearing slowly returned as the faint and steady sound of rhythmic beeping reached his brain. A faint repetitive hiss joined the beeps as more sounds made their presence known.

His sense of touch was the next to return, he could feel the soft fabric of bed sheets as they covered him, their soft cotton threads gentle against his skin. He knew that his head was resting on a fluffy pillow; he could feel the sides of the pillow on his face as it dipped to hold his head. He was vaguely aware of his hand brushing against cold metal as it twitched involuntarily. Sadly he was also aware of the IV that was in his arm.

His sense of taste attacked with a vengeance as the taste of tin filled his lungs. With this final bit of information he realized where he was. The knowledge of where he was came flooding back to him even as his other senses remained elusive. He knew he was in the Hospital, what he didn't know was why. The last thing he remembered had been fighting the Angel outside of the NERV pyramid. Could the battle have gone that badly?

His thoughts on the fate of Angels was cut short as a new sound reached his ears and a new sensation awakened to him. Somewhere close by he heard the gentle sound of breathing, it sounded as though the person were asleep. In addition to that he noticed the fact that his hand was both warm and being held in the grip of another's.

Misato, he thought even as he tried to force his eyes to accept the information he knew they were seeing. But sadly some part of his brain wanted to hold onto the dark comfort that he had known until his waking moment.

In a somewhat vain attempt to clear the fog from his eyes he shook his head, the action dislodged the oxygen mask he had been wearing, the hissing sound and tin taste his mind filled in.

With some reluctance he realized that he had to rely on his other senses for the moment. Gently he closed his hand tighter around the one holding his. He realized with a detached interest that the hand was too small to be Misato's, but while it wasn't hers it was definitely female, the skin was too soft and smooth to be male.

Absently rubbing his thumb over the soft skin he fought to recognize the familiarity that the skin presented him. He had felt it before, but where? The unique sensation that touching it produced was so familiar that it was driving him crazy that he couldn't place it. The fact that the contact was sending small electric jolts to his fingers didn't help one bit.

Softly he heard a sound coming from the sleeping woman, he strained to force his cotton filled ears to identify the sound. His mind exploded in a kaleidoscope of senses as he identified the voice and the hand and where he had felt their skin before, or more accurate what part of the skin he had felt before. A blush rose to his face even as the name appeared in his mind.

Rei.

His eyes began to focus and he turned his head to look at the blue haired girl sleeping next to his bed, her hand holding his. The sound came again, but this time he was able to understand what it was.

"Ikari," she whispered in her sleep, her head resting on her arm even as it crossed atop the one that held his own hand. Her hair had fallen into her face, waving gently when she breathed in and out. Needless to say he was mesmerized by her beauty. Shaking his head to dispel those thoughts he began looking around the hospital room. It was different than the one he was used to.

The walls, floor and ceiling were the same sterile white, but what was different was what was in the room. All around him stood monitors, IV stands, testing equipment and other devices he couldn't identify, nor did he want to.

But that isn't what caught his eye, what drew his attention were the flowers sitting next to his bedside. Not once in all the times he had been in the Hospital had he ever received flowers. He began to wonder who had given them to him when his musings were cut short by a gentle squeeze on his hand and a soft moan from the lips of Rei Ayanami, she was waking up.

He was silent as her eyes opened and moved around the room before landing on him. He was wholly surprised when she said his name and threw her arms around his shoulders, burying her head in the fabric of his hospital gown.

"I thought you were dead," she whispered as she buried her head deeper into the crook of his neck, taking in the scent that was uniquely Shinji.

Shinji could only smile as he awkwardly rubbed her back with one hand; the other was pinned to his side.

"You mean I'm not dead?" he said to the room at large, his grin fading slightly at the thought that this very well may not be Heaven.

"What? Why?" a slightly more composed Rei asked when she pulled away.

"Things like this only happen in my dreams, and this is too good to be a dream so I must be dead and this must be heaven." he replied with a gentle smile.

"Let me reassure you that you are very much alive," Misato's voice came from the direction of the door.

As she entered, Rei returned to the seat she had just vacated, but not once did she release his hand once she had reclaimed it in her own.

"You've been in a coma for the past two weeks, Shinji. Rei here has stayed by your side almost the entire time." When Misato said this Shinji looked at Rei. Her face had turned away from him but he was still able to see the light blush that tinted her pale cheeks.

When he turned back to face his guardian, he noticed the smirk on her face. Refusing to rise to the bait he instead asked her a question that had been bothering him for the past few minutes.

"So I've been out for two weeks?"

"Err, not exactly. How much do you remember from your coma, anything?"

"Nothing really," he replied as he paused to remember, "Mainly darkness and sounds. I remember hearing voices speaking to me."

"What did they say?" Misato asked as she took a comfortable position against the wall.

"I… I can't remember, I'm sorry Misato," he said as he bowed his head. To be honest he did remember what they said, he just didn't want Misato to know. While his eyes were turned toward the floor he couldn't help but steal glances at Rei as she sat watching the exchange.

Why had she stayed this whole time? Normally she would have left once Misato had shown up. Shinji's mind was a jumble as the words he had heard when he was unconscious returned to the surface of his mind.

The thing he remembered most was a longing, a desire to be somewhere else. He felt a call from far away but he was unable to go to it, try as he might. No matter how he fought he didn't seem to move from the muck he felt trapped in, yet even though he was trapped, he was reluctant to leave. It was warm and comforting to him, he just wanted to stay there in that place forever, if only the voices would shut-up and let him rest.

This wasn't all he remembered, he remembered returning to his mind like he had when the Twelfth Angel had swallowed him. The only difference this time was the presence of Rei in his dream. The dream Rei was telling him that he wasn't worthless and that he was wanted by his friends. He had argued with her, telling her that no one needed him. No one had ever been nice to him so why would they need him?

He knew that this cyclical argument was futile since he had realized before all this started that he needed the others, especially Rei, but it was all he had to defend himself against the truth in his own mind.

He pushed these memories away when he heard Misato dismiss his apology. He straightened, but quickly felt dizzy as the blood rushed to his face. He was lucky to not have hit the floor, he would have too if Rei hadn't caught him in time.

"Thank you Rei," he said as she helped him to lay flat.

"It is not a problem Shinji," she said softly, neither aware that they had used the other's first name, a fact Misato had filed away for later teasing.

"You were asking me about my memories, why?" Shinji asked once he had been settled, completely unaware of Rei's small hand tucked into his once again.

"Ummm," Misato stammered as she struggled to remember why she had asked that. "Oh, yeah … well, you weren't just in a coma for two weeks, umm. You … you were…"

"You were absorbed into Unit-01," Rei said as she stared at Shinji's face, awaiting a response. She could tell that Misato was waiting as well.

"Oh," he said in a surprised voice. "For how long?"

"A month," Rei supplied again, Misato seemed to be unable to speak at the moment.

"So I've been unconscious for a month and a half?"

"That is correct," Rei replied with a nod.

"I see," he said as he lay back against the pillow, his hand still clutching Rei's. He had a lot to think about.

Seeing that she would be unable to talk to him until he worked this out Misato quietly backed out of the room, leaving Rei to hold Shinji's hand.

AaAaA

"The Third is recovering well," the Sub-Commander said as he and Gendo watched the close-circuit display of the aforementioned pilot's hospital room.

"Indeed, he may be able to pilot again soon," Gendo replied without moving from his folded hand position.

"What of the apparent relationship developing between the First and the Third? Should we not destroy it before it goes too far?"

"No," Gendo said after a moments pause. "Let them continue. If nothing else it will raise their sync ratios. But it has an added benefit for us Sensei, he will be our leverage should she decide not to follow the scenario come the Sixteenth."

You would use him against the girl he loves? What kind of monster have you become Ikari? He thought before replying. "Yes, there are indeed nothing but benefits for us."

But then again, I'm just as big of a monster as you are, I can only hope fate is kind when judging us.

AaAaA

It had been several days since he had woken up; he'd been released from the hospital only the day before. Now he stood looking over the city of Tokyo-3. The wind of the lookout was blowing his hair back from his face even as the sun warmed him.

He stood with his head back and face turned upward. He often came here to think, ever since the Fifth angel. He found that the sun and wind helped to take away his troubled thoughts and restore some measure of peace to him.

"Ikari," a voice behind him broke his tranquility. He had almost forgotten that Rei was with him. Since he had woken up she hadn't left his side unless ordered to by Misato. When he had come out here to think she had followed.

"Yes Rei?" he asked as he slowly turned to face her. What he saw took his breath away; her hair was being blown into her face by the wind. Her hand slowly and gently raised to move the locks from her face. The sun was shining on her pale skin, making her glow with an almost ethereal light as though she were a true Angel.

The wind played with her school uniform, whipping the skirt around her legs, but he paid this no mind, instead he continued to stare at her face. A face that now bore emotions that were clearly visible on the surface, at least to him. The month and a half he had been gone must have really forced her to change.

"Why have we come here?" she asked as she moved to push the hair from her face once again.

Shinji wasn't paying any attention to her question, he was so transfixed by her subtle beauty, yet another thing he loved about her. She never put on makeup to look beautiful, all her beauty came naturally.

His mind suddenly slammed to a stop. Wait, love? Do I love Rei? He began to think, forgetting that he had already reached this conclusion before he was absorbed.

Yes, he said to himself as the memories came flooding back. I remember now. I do love her, with all my heart and soul. It is for her that I pilot the Eva, to protect her and keep her safe. I'd die for her.

"Ikari?" Rei asked again when she realized that he wasn't listening to her. "Shinji?"

His first name broke through his thoughts once again. "Yes?"

"I asked why we have come here. You began to stare at me and appeared to lose concentration."

"Oh," he said with a blush. "I'm sorry, I was just thinking about something. We came up here to think. This is where I come to think about my life, Evangelion, NERV, anything really."

"I see," she said with a nod as she just stared at him, taking in his features. She was somewhat surprised when he turned from her and walked to the edge of the lookout and sat on the wall, legs dangling over the side.

"Can I tell you something Rei?"

"Of course, Ikari," she answered both shocked and intrigued by his question.

"I remember when I was absorbed into the Eva. I know I told Ritsuko and Misato that I didn't remember anything but I lied. I can't explain what it was like, but it was similar to when I was swallowed by the Twelfth Angel. I was in my mind, talking and arguing with myself, at least for a portion of it." He paused to let out a laugh as his choice of phrase. "I know I sound crazy saying that but it's what I was doing."

"I was arguing about whether or not I wanted to come back or if I wanted to just disappear into the Eva. My mind kept flashing memories at me, trying to make me realize that I was worth something to someone, but I was able to come up with a counter each time. I remember I was winning the argument; I was so close to death that I could feel it, it wasn't a cold hand like most people imagine. It was a warm sensation that comforted me, I felt as though I were floating. It was the most peaceful I had ever been, I was content to just stay there floating forever, but that's when I heard it, your voice."

"My voice?" she said in confusion, her head cocked to the side as she watched him from her position beside him on the wall. She had moved there during his monologue, almost without her realizing it.

"Yes, your voice. It was calling to me, telling me not to give up, to fight. I didn't fully understand why at the time but I do now. But soon the voice in my mind faded and I heard you speaking to me. I heard your actual voice and you were reading the poem I wrote for you. I was drawn towards you; I was unable to do anything else even if I wanted to."

He paused for a moment to consider his next words, not so much planning them as arranging their meaning.

Voiceless Screaming
Calling to me inside of my heart
Knockin' on my soul's door
I believe in myself and trust what I do

"When I woke up you were the first thing I saw. You have no idea how much joy seeing you brought me in that instant, I felt as though I could have died at peace."

He was silent as he stared off into the horizon once again. They were silent as they just watched the city before them.

No regrets, his mind whispered to him, sounding somewhat like Kaji.

"No regrets," he whispered out loud, drawing Rei's attention once again.

"I'm sorry?" she said at his unexpected announcement.

"It's funny," he began in reply to her question. "I was ready to give in to death when I was in the Eva but once I was returned, seeing your face made me feel the same peace as I did when I was absorbed."

Rei was still considering his words.

"I am… uncertain as to what I should say in return," she confessed as she moved to sit closer to him.

"What does your heart tell you?" he asked as he turned his head to regard her, the wind blowing his hair in front of his eyes. Rei had to resist the urge to brush the hair away.

"My heart?" she asked as her hand made its way to where she could feel her own heart beating in her chest, confusion once again apparent on her face.

"Not that heart Rei," he said gently as he took her hand away from her chest and held it gently. "The symbolic heart that we feel emotions with."

She regarded his words and the hand that he held. She knew what he was speaking about, she had read enough about the emotional sensations that humans have. But nothing she had read could prepare her for the sensation of the butterflies in her own stomach. She hadn't noticed them before, but they came on full force when he took her hand. Now as she sat next to him she realized what he was saying. He wanted her to understand the feelings that came with being human.

"Ikari," she began as she lifted her eyes to meet his.

Tell him you love him. the voice ofDoubt spoke to her. It had been so quiet that Rei had forgotten about the conversation she had had with Doubt.

Tell him what? Rei asked.

Silly girl, tell him you love him. If you wait any longer you may lose him. You already know he loves you, let him know you feel the same.

Rei thought for a moment about what Doubt had said. She looked at her hand held in Shinji's and she looked into his eyes as well. Taking all these things as well as the feelings she had felt when Shinji had been absorbed by Unit-01, she came to a realization. She finally had an answer to the question that Doubt had asked her shortly before Shinji's absorption. Even though she had admitted to loving him when he had been returned from the Eva, she had marked those off to being only words of joy.

"I …" she began as she planned her words, looking for the perfect words to say what she needed to. Taking a deep breath she began again.

"Shinji, I … I am unable to say what I need to, I am sorry."

"That's ok Rei; you don't need to say anything. Just so long as you know what you're feeling." He told her with a gentle squeeze of her hand.

"No, you don't understand," she said with a gentle shake of her head, a small smile creeping up her lips. "I am unable to say what needs to be said because there are no words to describe it correctly. Instead allow me to show you."

"Show me?" he asked in confusion, but before the words had drifted off on the wind he felt fire alight along his lips as they came into contact with Rei's. His mind struggled for a moment before his body reacted on its own. His arms came up around her and pulled her toward him even as he deepened the kiss.

After several moments of kissing and sharing their feelings they broke apart for air.

"Rei," he said as they stared into each other's eyes. "I don't know what the future holds for us, I'm not even sure if we'll live through this war. But I do know one thing, I love you. I love you and I want you with me as long as I can have you."

One of her hands came up to cup his face before she placed a gentle kiss on his nose. He smiled at the endearing gesture; after all, sometimes words weren't needed.

"Rei, will you be my girlfriend?" he asked as he took her other hand in his and held it gently.

She could only nod as he leaned in and kissed her again. They stayed that way until the Sun began to set. When it did they wrapped their arms around each other for warmth and just watched as the brilliant colors filled the sky.

For now they were at peace, yet both knew that the next angel could very well take one of them away. Knowing this they silently vowed that they would live what life they had together to the fullest, no matter what happened.

Voiceless Screaming
Pain of the past still hurts me inside
Knockin' on my soul's door
I climb the stairs that lead me to Heaven

The End

AaAaA

Well, that's it. Hope you all enjoyed it. Now, below is the poem from above in its entirety.

Window to the soul

Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul,
A look into a person's very core.

In your eyes, I see your pain,
I see all your hurts and fears.
I feel your loneliness when you look at me,
It eats away at my soul, your pain joining us together as one.

Your soul calls to me,
Asking, seeking, begging for a reason to go on.
I see the path your silent tears have followed,
How I ache to reach out and rub the crystalline drops from existence,
How I wish you would let me.

Let me be the one to soothe your pain,
Let me be the one to comfort you.
Show me your loneliness and I'll show you mine,
Together we can find a reason.

Let me be the one to hold you when you cry,
Let me be the one you turn to.
Above all, I ask, let me be the one to love you.