This fiction picks up towards the end of Episode 24: The Final Messenger
As such, it contains major spoilers. Be warned. Obviously, Evangelion and all related characters are copyrights of Gainax, etc. etc. etc. This is not written for profit. Feel free to distrubute, but please do not remove this disclaimer. Thanks, Kerristallax (kerristallax@yahoo.com)

The Kaworu Chronicles
Version 2: New as of 2001-5-21
Part 1: Prequel / Introduction

"I have been waiting for you, Shinji-kun."

These were the words of Nagisa Kaworu as he floated serenely down the access shaft, apparently unaware of the struggle around him. Behind him, in front of him, surrounding him was more than simply two biomechanical constructs battling for dominance. It was man, desperately fighting to save himself; while at the same time, fighting against the ambitions of other men.

Kaworu was almost unconsciously levitating himself and the two Evangelions aloft, drifting slowly downward. He glowed brightly, a pure white. The color itself may have been a warming, but the circumstances only made it more sinister. It is quite unnatural for a human to be covered in a brilliant nimbus... but for an Angel? That would not be the strangest occurrence...

The two Evas locked hands, each trying to overpower the other. They each seemed to realize that such grappling would end in stalemate at the same time, and both of their shoulder cases shot open simultaneously to reveal the progressive knives. Unit 01's weapon had the general appearance of a combat-style blade, whereas Unit 02's knife was more similar to a massive utility razor. Unit 01's blade stabbed forward, at exactly the same instant as Unit 02's. The two met in a violent clash of sparks, holding together for a moment.

Unit 01, piloted by a human, lost its balance for a split second, its knife flying suddenly at Kaworu. Within the Eva, Shinji was speechless as the huge weapon hurtled towards the one he had once called friend, only to be deflected by a field of orange-red hexagons. An Angel's AT Field...

"Kaworu-kun!" Shinji shouted. "An AT Field?!"

"Yes, Shinji-kun. That's what you humans call this... But don't you know? It is the sacred light of the soul, into which no-one may intrude. It is something which every human has, the truth which has always existed but you refuse to admit. The AT Field is that because of which we are separated. It is the wall within your mind."

Distracted, Unit 01 was abruptly knifed in the chest. In retaliation, Unit 02 received a generous stab to the throat. Each tried to push the blade in as deeply as possible.

"Only a friend can get close enough to hurt," Kaworu said, to himself as much as to Shinji. "If you don't get close to others, you won't be betrayed and you can't hurt each other."

At this time, they fell through a hole in the ceiling of Terminal Dogma. The two Evas had fallen into a sea of Link Connection Liquid, upon which floated... icebergs, or fragments of them. They bore a striking resemblance to jagged teeth. It looked as though the scenery was an attempt to replicate the conditions of Antarctica, fated site of the Second Impact. At any rate, the atmosphere did nothing to comfort Ikari Shinji.

Kaworu floated a several feet over the fallen Unit 01, regarding Shini sadly. He turned, with what could almost be described as regret, or sadness, and drifted towards the portal known as Heaven's Door. Shinji was determined not to give up, and stood to take a step after him. His progress was halted by Unit 02 grabbing his leg. Furious, Shinji brought his fist with full force into the Eva's face, reducing part of it to a bloody ruin. Meanwhile, Kaworu had reached the door. Supposedly, this was the most secure place in the NERV Geofront. It was allegedly protected by all manners of wards and seals, though it opened with but a glance from Kaworu.

The door slid open quickly, revealing NERV's most prized possession. A white figure, roughly the size of an Evangelion minus the legs, fixed on a very large red cross.

"I have returned, father," Kaworu addressed the masked figure. Then, Unit 01 crashed through the door loudly. "What...? Lilith? This is mankind's future...? I... I think I understand, now..." Unit 01 reached out angrily, taking him in its immense grasp.

"Ikari Shinji-kun..." Kaworu said quietly. "It is my destiny as a child of Adam to live forever... Even if humanity is to be annihilated as the result. However, I can and will die so that you may go on. The absolute liberty is in death... Only I, of all the Angels, have free will. I make my own decisions, the same way each of you does every day. My price... It is responsibility. But know this. It must be you who can evade the destruction and inherit the future."

So saying, Kaworu gazed upwards to the form of Ayanami Rei, whom he could see clearly, far above. He smiled warmly to her, intending that to be is his last gesture. At least, let some good come of me.

"I'm sorry, Ikari Shinji-kun," Kaworu said to the Evangelion holding him.

Rei had witnessed and heard the entire exchange. The fifth child... The seventeenth Angel... In what way are you and I alike? Why did you say this? How insignificant he looks in the palm of the Evangelion. This is an Angel? An enemy? How can he be my enemy?

His words stirred something within her, emotions not her own. Her mind was a shambles of thoughts she did not recognize. Kaworu...kun? I did not know I could care... Rei reached out. Let go... and take hold... The act was quite unlike spreading an Eva's AT Field.

"No... Kaworu-kun... No..." Shinji whispered, tightening his hands on the control modules of Unit 01. "I can't..."

His thought was interrupted by a flash of fiery hexagons, sliding between his fist and Kaworu's body like a knife. Kaworu fell to the ground below of Heaven's Door in a heap. He sat up weakly after a minute, looking very confused for the first time. Lilith?

Shinji was too shocked to move, watching Nagisa Kaworu slowly stand up and dust himself off, apparently testing to see if he was still in one piece. For reasons unknown to Shinji, he looked upwards again, and realization seemed to dawn on him, at least partially. Shinji's paralysis passed quickly as rage overtook him, though. Unit 01 tried to step forward to Kaworu, only to be stopped by an AT Field stronger than a mountain and smoother than glass. There was no apparent way to get through, no way to tear a hole in the field. The Eva's AT Field was not having its usual neutralizing effect.

Furious, he picked up the fallen progressive knife in an attempt to batter through the field. Failing this and quickly running out of options, Shinji raised his fist to smash through by hand. It was then that he noticed a detail which previously escaped him. By the time the hexagons spreading along the field reached Kaworu-kun, they were large and well-spaced apart. Then... he was not the source of the AT Field? Shinji looked upwards, trying to discern what the source of the field was. His eyes followed its path, all the way up to a tiny glowing figure on the balcony. There stood none other than Ayanami Rei.

Rei rested against the railing, her eyes opening slowly, now. She wore an intense look, as though she had exerted herself physically.

"Ayanami...! What... what are you doing?!" Shinji cried. Being inside his Entry Plug, he did not really expect an answer. Shortly thereafter, Shinji was in for another shock. Rei appeared to lean over the balcony slowly, and just kept on leaning out. She fell over the side, and though she did not scream on the way down, the fall certainly did not look intentional. Inches before reaching the hard surface of the floor under the gateway, Rei stopped abruptly in mid-air. She only remained suspended for a second, before landing in a crouch on the floor, wholly undamaged.

Rei stepped over to the nearby Kaworu, whispering quietly to him. "We must leave this place..."

Kaworu nodded slowly, and then walked semi-consciously through the threshold of Heaven's Door, back into the access shaft they had come through. Rei followed him, motioning for Shinji and Unit 01 to leave, as well.

Before exiting, Shinji took a long look at the figure on the cross. He had heard Kaworu, somehow, say the word 'Lilith'. He stared at the figure wearing a purple mask of seven eyes. Adam? Supposedly, all the Angels are searching for Adam so that they might destroy humanity. Kaworu-kun is, obviously, an Angel. Once again, my trust has been betrayed. How like father... Sighing, Shinji in Unit 01 walked through the portal. Oddly, the Eva was slouched over, dragging its hands as if in weariness.

As soon as he stepped through, they all heard the loud sound of metal running on metal. Heaven's Door clanged shut, the display on the card reader changing from green to red. Rei stood waiting for him, and Kaworu... looked almost unsure. Shinji lay the Eva down on its side, then frantically ejected the Entry Plug. He scrambled out as soon as it had stopped moving, falling a few feet to the ground.

"Ayanami!" Shinji shouted. "What's going on? What are you doing?!"

Rei gave no answer, only looked to Kaworu to explain the unusual turn of events. After a tense moment of silence, Kaworu began.

"I have no excuses for you, Shinji-kun. Whether I was truly born to meet you, as I said, or not; my existence is both a betrayal to you and to everyone else. I am the Seventeenth Angel, known as Tabris. I am the Angel of Free Will... And that, of itself, has become hypocrisy. I allowed myself to be used... by the old men of the commitee, who seek their own ends regardless of the expense to humanity. I failed. I did not merely fail them, for that is of little consequence. I failed myself. By allowing myself to be used, I made the decision not to use my free will, and so wronged myself. I have done a great evil to you, Shinji-kun. You've been betrayed, again, by someone who lead you into the realm of trust. I do not ask your forgiveness."

As the words hit Shinji, their meaning painful to even consider, he felt his strength ebb. Slowly, he sank to the floor. Rei found herself again wondering strange thoughts, not her own... Emotions she had felt, but did not remember.

I know you, don't I, Ikari... Or rather, Rei knows you. What did you mean to her? To me?

"Ikari. Will you continue to torment yourself so? Your objectives have been completed. No Third Impact has happened, and humanity is safe. Kaworu-kun lives. You are alive, and unhurt," Rei said to him.

Shinji lay on the ground, hearing Rei's words but not paying attention. "Kaworu-kun..." he pondered dazedly. "Do I feel angry? Do I seek revenge? Upon whom? No... I don't... I'm empty, tired. I can't go on..."

Far above, in the main control area of NERV, or Central Dogma, the madness was only beginning.

"Audio sensors to Terminal Dogma restored!" Maya shouted.

"The AT Field is gone! Unit 02 has ceased operation, status unknown. Unit 01 has ejected its Entry Plug!" Hyuuga exclaimed. "Heaven's Door has been closed."

"The Angel..." Misato began. "What is going on down there?!" she screamed into a phone transmitting to Unit 01's external communications system. "Shinji-kun! What are you doing?!"

Rei, followed slowly by Kaworu, walked over to the still prone Shinji. Kaworu began quietly, "Shinji-kun... I have come to regret... what has been done. More importantly, I regret the pain that has been caused."

"Ikari-kun," Rei went on after Kaworu stopped speaking. "You have fulfilled your obligation. Your duty, to prevent the Seventeenth Angel from reaching Adam, has been completed. When Misato arrives, you need not apologize. You have done nothing wrong."

Slowly and after considerable mental debate, Shinji rose. "If this is true, then..." Shinji paused for a long period of time, staring at the floor. Gradually, he raised his eyes to Kaworu and Rei, who were standing together. "You two seem so alike," Shinji mused aloud. Rei was startled by this comment, a faint tint of red staining her cheeks. She raised her eyebrows in question, but Shinji gave no additional comment. "...then..." His speech was reflecting the disjointed state of his mind and soul. "...then... help... me..."

Shinji fell foward, his fall prevented only by Rei and Kaworu's close proximity.

"Shinji?! Where are you?! What's going on?!" screamed Misato from Unit 01's external communications system.

"Come, Ikari... We will go together to Misato-san," Rei and Kaworu assisted the incapacitated Shinji over the Unit 01, where screaming could still be heard from the phone located there.

"Misato-san, the Angel has been prevented from reaching Adam," Rei said into the receiver. Kaworu refrained from commenting that the being was, in reality, Lilith.

"Shinji-kun?!"

Wearily, Shinji took the receiver from Rei. "I am alive, Misato-san," he responded at length.

"Is everyone alright?!" Misato continued to yell.

Looking to Kaworu and Rei, Shinji replied, "Yes... Everyone is all-right."