Disclaimer- No, the wonderful Evangelion series is not mine.
A lone figure stands at the edge of the ocean, glancing down at a marker, the only tribute to his progenitor. Unruly raven hair that is beginning to get in his eyes as it whips in the wind, saddened midnight blue eyes stare at the stone.
For the stretch of a few moments, the soft crashing of waves is the only sound.
Then, Shinji Ikari, Third Child and the boy who held the fate of Humanity in his grasp, begins to speak.
"Hello Father... its been a year since I last came." Of course, his father is not truly interred here, just as the grave markers a few meters back do not hold and bodies. This is merely a shell, something to keep the memories tangible.
He does not know why he comes every year, on this day, the day of Third Impact and the Instrumentality of Man. It is not for fond reminiscence or love, but out of...
Even that is unknown.
But as the years roll on, as the task of rebuilding humanity wears, and his dependence on Asuka's companionship waxes, he begins to understand. He comes to an understanding that other children have encountered.
Bit by bit, he understands his father.
"I... I think I understand you a little more this time too." He chokes out slowly, every word tearing itself from his heart. It is difficult to admit, difficult to admit sympathy for this devil of a man.
A man who abandoned a child, his own flesh and blood, at the moment when Shinji needed a father, a pillar of strength the most. A man who recalled his son in order to use as an instrument, a weapon in a war. A man who, by all accounts, attempted to destroy his son's heart, soul, and mind.
Nay... no man could do such things. Only a heartless demon.
And yet... wasn't this, this Instrumentality, this Apocalypse, this Eden... wasn't this so one man could see his wife again?
The lines blurred, and such a selfish and yet loving reason nearly justified the madness of Gendo Ikari.
"You wanted to see mother again... wanted it so badly you were willing to damn mankind for it." Shinji whispered softly, eyes fixed on the meaningless marker. "You needed her... needed her to keep you sane, to keep you from losing yourself... to make you who you are." They are as much for him as they are for his father.
He paused, unsure if these words are true, but nonetheless continues. "I understand that now... I understand..."
And it is true. The days of bitter, childish fighting with the German redhead are over, first set aside by a mutual need to survive, then out of companionship... and now Shinji knows they are heading into somewhere new, frightening, and ultimately beautiful.
The Third Child knows the name of this feeling, but knows that this creature cannot be named, not yet, and cannot be spoken. But words are mere sounds, and this feeling is beyond sound and beyond touch.
He knows other feelings for the Second Child. Care, protectiveness, and immense gratitude.
The reason is simplistically elegant.
If it was not for Asuka, then he would never have found his will to survive.
The day is clear in his mind, though the exact time is unknown, save it was shortly after they arrived on the beach.
Despair, torrents of it had drowned him in sorrow and misery. Everything, Kaoru, Rei, Touji, Misato, the loss of everything he had known and the events of the waning days of 2015 were a tormenting miasma on his mind. As that drifted, the terrible knowledge of the crimes his father had done were upon him.
Rei... a clone of his mother and an Angel, a shell for a soul, his father's keystone for his insane plans.
The Dummy Plug and the Commander's own knowledge of everything that had happened.
All these and more, all these sins of the father bore down on the son like a Biblical flood to wash his existence away.
Step by step, at first unknowingly and then purposefully, he had walked his way to the limitless ocean, where waves seemed hungry tongues ready to swallow him up.
Just end it, something had whispered softly, like a siren's song, singing its dirge of doom from the gates of the Netherworld.
As his foot touched the waves however, a slight tug on his shirt stayed him.
Behind him, the hollowed shell that was once the vibrant, vivacious Second Child whispered pitifully, "Don't go." The words, though soft as a butterfly's kiss, had the impact of Adam.
Swallowing, he could only reply hoarsely, "Why?"
Her shining locks in the dying sun veiled her face from view, and although Asuka would never admit to it, Shinji swore that a single tear had fallen down her face. She responded in the quietest, meekest tone possible, "I need you."
That shouldn't have undone hundreds, thousands of other words and deeds. Words of hatred-
"I HATE YOU! I HATE EVERYTHING!"
words of scorn-
"Such a boring little boy."
words of deception, spoken by others-
"I mean, I love you."
And more, words of laughter, words of pain, so many words that should not have been undone by three. Faces blurred, visages that urged him, beckoned him to the sweet finality of death.
Kaoru, his words that brought bliss and then agony.
Father, dismissing him as a tool and a person.
Rei- the new one, not THE Rei- quietly and coldly talking to him.
Asuka, scorning him, mocking him.
That should never have been enough to stop this tide.
But somehow, those words stayed the death wish.
It was enough.
Someone still needed him.
As long as she needed him, it would be enough.
Nodding, the Third Child stepped away from the waves and back towards his companion.
Without her that day, without her every day, every morning, it would be impossible to go on. It scared him.
What frightened him even more was what he would do to get her back. Anything. Any cost would be cheap if he could have her back. The crimes his father committed seemed petty to that determination.
"Was this how you felt, Father? Were you frightened of losing mother, and then that determined to regain her?" the similarities were too great, and the feeling too repugnant at first. It took years for him to become accustomed to feeling sympathy for the devil.
No, he could never forgive and condone what his father had done, but he could accept it. He could sympathize with it.
"Shinji?" her voice has mellowed, softened into a tone like music.
Armageddon will do that to people.
Swallowing, and whispered too softly for anyone but himself to hear, Shinji said, "Until next year. Goodbye father."
Then he turned, and with a content smile, walked back to Asuka, who waited with open arms and her own gentle smile.
Sometimes, if put in the correct light, the actions of monsters can seem acts of love.
Sometimes, love does make one do crazy things, but one commits insanity to regain it.
Sometimes, one can feel sympathy for the devil.