Disclaimer: I don't own Neon Genesis Evangelion or any of its characters.
Author's Notes: I've stalled on Wishes of the Children, but I still wanted to do a complete Eva story, so I decided to do a straight-up Shinji/Rei fanfic like I always wanted.
This is an AU diverging from when the movies occur in the Eva timeline. This story was sparked from a random thought I had in my abnormal psychology class: What if, instead of Shinji getting self-confidence from Jedi Knights, aliens, magic, or transplanted anime characters, the poor kid simply had therapy?
I've done research on many aspects of this story, but my knowledge of psychotherapy sessions stems mainly from my psychology classes, the internet, and the depths of my twisted imagination, so you've been warned.
Life Goes On
Written by funvince
In an infinite number of timelines, it is inevitable that there would be an infinite number of outcomes to what is known as the 'Angel War' on the multi-universal node called Evangelion.
On many EVA worlds, Third Impact occurred and all souls became one. Human evolution had been jumpstarted. It can also be said that it permanently ended. Naturally, there aren't many universes that split off from this type of ending. The most prominent spin-off was discovered by Jim Lazar a few years ago and described in his book, Garden of EVA.
On other worlds, pilots Shinji Ikari and Asuka Sohryu become the only humans on Earth. Sometimes, it's Shinji and Rei Ayanami, Shinji and Misato Katsuragi, or even Shinji and Pen-Pen, but for the most part it's the Second and Third Children. Whether they kill each other immediately, die of starvation, survive to old age as sole survivors of a desolate planet, or are joined by others who rejected the lure of paradise depends on innumerable factors.
This section of the multiverse has garnered significant interest in the past few years. I am not usually a follower of trends, but there was just something about three teenagers trying to save a world that had never done any good for them and would break and discard them for its own selfish ends that appealed to me.
Like most events in history that spark the human imagination, it is a tragedy. So it is ironic that the timeline that really provoked my interest was one of the rare few that had a happy ending. Let others enjoy the apocalyptic aftermaths or the doomed romances that will inevitably end when the world does. It is easy to forget that those quiet, sweet moments between Shinji and Asuka or Shinji and Rei enjoyed in the popular media are shadowed by forces that will ensure their eventual destruction.
No, what I am most interested in are the world-strings where Third Impact was prevented and the major characters of Tokyo-3 are forced to adjust to their continued (and perhaps unwanted) existence.
Because the only thing more fascinating than watching people die is watching them live.
The world-string in particular (EVA-1046-3054-34654) that started my journey can be quickly summarized.
The point of divergence occurred after Commander Gendo Ikari released Doctor Ritsuko Akagi from confinement to deal with the attempted takeover of the MAGI by the shadowy group known as Seele. In a 'baseline' universe, Akagi managed to suppress her hatred of Ikari in favor of survival and installed the 666 protector. Later, she would confront Ikari and fail miserably in her attempts to destroy NERV and the man she hated so much.
In another universe...
No one will ever know what prompted her suicidal madness to occur at a much earlier point than expected in the timeline. For whatever reason, instead of trying to protect the MAGI from invasion, Doctor Akagi locked herself inside the computer and activated the self-destruct. CASPER, the supercomputer containing the personality of her mother, fought back, but Akagi, safe in the heart of the system, turned her talents to over-riding the AI.
In the meantime, the call for evacuation was sounded by the bridge crew. Captain Katsuragi found Shinji and dragged him to safety. A comatose Asuka was taken out with the medical unit. Casualties were kept to a minimum because of the heroic efforts of the NERV personnel.
The ultimate ending of the world would still have occurred despite these changes if Rei hadn't been grabbed by Section 2 agents on her way to the LCL tanks and rescued despite her protests.
When a butterfly flaps its wings...
By the time the JSSDP arrived, the NERV facility had been buried under a mountain of rubble. Since the threat of Third Impact was eliminated, the Japanese government called off their attack. In light of the entire collapse of their plans, Seele withdrew to deal with the fury of its members.
Gendo Ikari was not found among the survivors and was presumed dead.
Events moved quickly after that. Sub-commander Fuyutsuki was tried for crimes against humanity. Captain Katsuragi and other personnel were transferred to desk jobs in the Japanese military. Recovery of the Evangelion units and reconstruction of the holding facilities began and is still in progress at the last check.
An investigating committee determined that the three Children were in need of serious psychological evaluation. A broken Asuka was placed in the care of the local military hospital for observation and physical and psychological therapy. Shinji was also ordered to attend therapy lessons, but was able to stay under the guardianship of Captain Katsuragi.
In a surprising act of initiative, the First Child, Rei resigned from NERV. When pressed, she simply replied, "I am no longer necessary." This caused a minor flurry among the upper ranks, but it quickly died down when more important matters came to their attention.
Is this the happy ending I spoke of? After all, the world survived. But mere survival is hardly anything to be excited about, especially when you're living in your own hell. Six months would pass before the major characters of the Angel War would begin to move on with the rest of their lives. And it is fitting that this new chapter in their individual journeys would begin just as the one prior to it. With the actions of the Third Child, Shinji Ikari.
For a more in-depth discussion of these events, please turn to the section entitled Detailed Histories of 500 Evangelion Worlds.
Now, I'd like to discuss the political and socioeconomic landscapes common to almost all the discovered EVA world-strings that made the Angel War possible...
Saotome Ranma, Ph.D.
Multi-Dimensional Chronology of the Last Days of NERV, Third Branch, Vol. 1
March 14, 2016
"Okay class, I don't normally do this, but since it is White Day and we could use a little holiday cheer these days, you may use these ten minutes before lunch to exchange gifts."
"Hai, sensei," the class replied.
Shinji watched the other boys in his class sheepishly get to their feet and handed out small white boxes to the girls around them. White Day was the holiday where boys gave chocolates to the girls who gave them chocolates on St. Valentine's Day a month before. Personally, he thought the American way where everyone simply exchanged gifts at the same time made more sense.
Having all the girls watching and probably quietly whispering about which of the girls he gave a box was someone he secretly liked was very disconcerting. For years, he had dreaded this day, but today he felt a little anticipation.
The rebuilding of Tokyo-3 was going well. Families were moving back to the city and the school had just recently reopened a month ago. He had undergone extensive training in social skills and dealing with anxiety, but dealing with large groups in the real world and not just in simulated scripts was still new to him. He had to fight constantly against falling into old negative thought patterns.
Shinji looked down at the bag of tiny boxes at his feet. He had gotten many chocolates the month before, so he had more girls than many of the other guys to return the favor to. I probably only got those because I helped save the world. He caught himself thinking negatively and concentrated a bit. That may be true for some of them, but it's possible that I really am liked.
It was extremely hard work changing old habits, but he knew the results would be worth it. He stood up and walked down the aisles handing out the white boxes. Shinji forced himself to make eye contact and smile.
Someday, this will feel natural, he told himself. He hadn't gotten to learn how to handle small talk yet, so he was grateful that the girls were too busy blushing and giggling to engage him in conversation.
"Go Touji!" Kensuke yelled.
Touji pulled himself away from the liplock he was in with the class representative and growled, "Shut up, Aida!"
The class laughed then started leaving for lunch with a smirking Touji and a red-faced Hikari leading the way. The former Fourth Child draped an arm across her shoulders and gave Shinji a thumbs-up as they passed.
Shinji smiled back genuinely this time, glad that his friend's life was getting back on track. He had to remind himself periodically that Touji had forgiven him for the loss of his arm and leg, and there was little point in punishing himself for something that couldn't be changed, but it was moments like this that made it so much easier.
It was almost as if the Angel attacks had never happened. The teacher had stopped talking about Second Impact and even Kensuke had moved on to obsessing over other things. Shinji thought he should feel angry about that, having all his accomplishments so quickly fade away, but he found he preferred it that way. The past was the past and it was time to move on.
He couldn't help feeling guilty that for the first time in his life, he felt if not happy then content. He was by no means 'cured' and he would undoubtedly always be shy and anxious, but he was learning to deal with the death of his mother, the neglect of his father, Kaworu's death, and the other horrors that went with being an Eva pilot.
At least, until two weeks ago, he had been perfectly content. Or willfully ignorant if he was going to be honest with himself.
Shinji looked at the last box in his hands. It was more expensive than the others he had brought and in his mind, more special. He glanced over at the bluehaired girl still sitting in the back of the room and frowned slightly.
School had reopened a month ago, but Rei hadn't shown up until only two weeks prior. She drifted in one day and sat at the empty desk in the back and that was that. Rei Ayanami was still registered for the class since the administration was still dealing with the backlog of paperwork caused by the evacuation. And she was a former pilot and could do as she pleased.
That turned out to be doing nothing. She didn't turn in homework, she refused to answer even direct questions from the teacher, and she even fell asleep in class a few times. It didn't seem possible, but she was quieter and even more isolated than ever.
Shinji was concerned at this uncharacteristic behavior and even more so at Rei's physical condition. Rei had always been a thin girl, but she was now quite gaunt. She was disheveled and he had the sense that she'd been wearing the same uniform for the last few days. She didn't even look out the window anymore but stared blankly at her desk. She seemed so tired.
Her resignation from NERV had caused a spark of astonishment in him. He wouldn't have thought her capable of such an action though Rei had always been full of surprises. He supposed that because his father was gone and there was no longer any need for pilots, there wasn't any reason for her to stay. He had felt brief concern for what would happen to her, but it had quickly been lost in own self-pity. He had been quite the selfish bastard at the time.
Shinji felt a burst of anxiety looking down at the box he had brought for Rei. He had given the girl little thought during the time he was treated for his depression. Under the weight of his other problems, the matter of her origins had been forgotten.
He felt bad that in all his sessions, he had never brought up his feelings about Ayanami's death and her subsequent resurrection. He supposed that it was for the best since he doubted that he would have been able to discuss that on top of everything else that was dragging him down.
The box in his hand was meant to be an apology for leaving her alone. He was a little angry that though Rei had saved the world she had quickly been forgotten about not only by himself but by the rest of the world. It had taken him the two weeks to decide how he wanted to approach this matter and now was the time to do so.
Here's to new beginnings, he thought walking slowly for Rei's desk. His nervousness grew with each step until he told himself that the only person who would see his humiliation was Rei. For some reason, that thought made him feel less frightened.
He gently placed the white box on Rei's desk directly in her line of sight. He expected the lack of response, but he was dismayed to see that she didn't even look up. She didn't acknowledge him in any way at all.
This is going badly... Maybe I should... No! I have prepared for this. Stick with the plan.
"Ayanami, I wanted to apologize for not being a better friend to you. I do not wish to make excuses and I know that this gift can not make up for my neglect and poor behavior. I have never thanked you for everything you have done for me and I regret that. But I thank you now and hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. Gomen nasai."
Shinji backed up a few steps and gave a deep bow.
With a rapidly beating heart, he glanced up to see Rei's response.
She was still staring at nothing. As far as he could tell, she hadn't moved the entire time. If it wasn't for the slight movements of her chest, he would have thought she had died.
Depression struck Shinji so quickly that it threatened to overwhelm him. His body began to tremble and it took every technique he knew to calm his mind and keep from bolting from the room.
It's okay. It's okay. Keep it together until you're out of the room.
Shinji quietly said goodbye then walked out of the room. He immediately leaned against a wall and began breathing deeply, trying to make sense of what just happened.
He was surprised at how hurt he felt at this rejection. No, not the rejection itself, but how his apology had been rejected. He realized that he had been depending on the fact that Rei had always treated him differently than anyone else besides his father. He could have dealt with her slapping him or even turning away from him, but he never thought that she would simply ignore him.
Like he was anyone else.
A small part of him, one that he called Wimpy Shinji, wanted to cut his losses and hide until the sadness and shame went away.
So you want to give up just because you're not special anymore? He asked himself harshly. This isn't about your ego! You never checked up on her, you just forgot she existed. That's not right.
I'm going to get hurt at times. It's part of life.
Oh, that was easy enough to say, but despite all his progress, he still wasn't ready to accept the truth of such a reality yet.
But he wanted Rei to be his friend again. No, that wasn't right either. Their old friendship had been more in name only than in fact. What he wanted was to start over with her. He didn't know why, but it was important to him.
He supposed that this was his chance. It's not much of a silver lining, but I'll take it.
But he didn't know what else to do. He couldn't do this alone.
Shinji made a decision. Heading down the hall toward the front entrance to the school, he took out his cell phone and dialed a number.
"Doctor Samuels, are you free now? I need to talk to you..."