-1Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion, but I have plenty of coffee and cigarettes, if you want some of those…
26 March 06: Reread for kicks, and became disgusted by my lack of editing… Hopefully I fixed most of it. Minor changes only.
The Way Out is Through
Chapter One: The Post War Dream
The sound of the waves rolling up onto the beach, helped to provide a kind of surreal atmosphere, aided immensely by the fact that the water had an orange-red tint, but that's only the minor details. Near the water lay two teenagers, either one staring with dead eyes into the night sky, a beautiful, cloudless, star-filled sky marred by a long crimson cut that spanned well past the horizon.
Time held no meaning for them, as neither one knew exactly how long it was that they had been laying there. Neither cared. Crucified giants, only a few hundred yards off shore seem to keep a silent vigil over the two. Nearby, a much smaller wooden cross has an even smaller, polished stone cross nailed to it.
The night sky fades slowly towards sunrise, purplish bruises already present on the neck of the unconscious female, as she lay alone by the sea. A broken trail of footprints lead off the beach before fading into dying grass.
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Several hundred meters away from where the girl, Asuka, lay, walks the boy, Shinji. Moving about in a daze, he finds difficulty in collecting his thoughts. If not for the surreal state of the landscape, he would have considered the last twenty four hours to have been a dream, no… a horrible nightmare that should be forgotten at the first opportunity. Yet, here he stands, in what's left of the middle of a post apocalyptic city, reduced to little more than an immense lake framed by the occasional building that somehow managed to escape the destruction.
If this is real, he thought to himself; Then… I could have… I was going to… then she… oh… oh, God. He nearly lost control of his emotions once again.
'How disgusting…' Standing with his shoulders hunched, Shinji looked up to the sky towards the unseen god, who in his mind's eye was again focusing the magnifying glass on him.
Why am I always the one who suffers? Why her? Why… just why god damn it! Kicking a large piece of leaning concrete, he immediately wished he hadn't, as the pain shot through his leg. Slumping up against the debris, Shinji finds he has finally run out of tears.
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The rays emanating from the rising sun were more than warm enough to cause Asuka to wake, something she was almost glad she did considering the dream, until she opened her eye anyways. The events prior to, and during third impact rushed through her head in a disjointed series of images, and pain… some residual, some not. It caused her head to hurt, thus making it incredibly hard to focus for a few minutes.
A dull, pulsing ache emanated from her bandaged arm, as well as from her left eye, definitely not helping the matter.
Soon, however, realization hit; I… I should be dead… no, I… died… so is this hell? The thought slightly unnerved her. No, not hell… this is probably worse. A cold chill quickly ran down her spine, unconsciously looking down, she noticed the trail left by the third. Footprints… who… Shinji. Oh no… he didn't…
"Shinji?"Her voice was soft, almost delicate. Idiot… "Shinji, Where are you?" She was yelling now, her voice cracking slightly. She couldn't help the sudden hollow feeling. She was alone, and it scared the hell out of her. "Shinji! You idiot, where the fuck are you!" The sinking feeling overcame her after about ten minutes of trying to call out to him, and for her, the realization slowly dawned on her. So you've finally abandoned me too, huh? For reasons unbeknownst to her, a tear silently made its way down her face. Anger flashed over her features as she quickly swiped the tear away, as if some unknown antagonist would use the opportunity to point and laugh. To her, in her mind, the cynical laughter at her weakness was already deafening, defying logic. Fine… I don't need that coward… I… I don't need anyone…
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Something had startled Shinji from his fitful sleep, though he didn't have the slightest idea what it could have been. Not knowing when he had fallen asleep, or how long he had been out, Shinji instinctually looked skyward. The sun was directly overhead. It was dawn when I walked out here… have I been out that long? Taking stock of his surroundings, he suddenly realized that Asuka was probably awake, and his prolonged absence would likely end up being detrimental to his health. I better get back… god, I hope she doesn't kill me over last night… or this. His gulp seemed incredibly loud to him, which only served to quicken his pace.
It was a scant thirty minute walk on the way out, but his sense of urgency reduced the time by nearly half. Nearing the beach, Shinji noticed, with much relief, that the giant Rei head had dissolved into the ocean overnight, leaving no obvious trace. His relief died a quick, and horrible death when he crested the hill overlooking the beach, where instead of an angry redhead, he found two sets of footprints in the sand. One of the sets, he knew, were his, the other…
Asuka? No… she didn't… no, she wouldn't… would she? Franticly, Shinji ran along the beach, following the trail left behind in the sand, screaming Asuka's name. Fresh tears streamed down his face as an old fear came to grip his heart once more… abandonment. Abruptly, to his great displeasure, the trail ended, and for the next several hours, that was all the further he traveled, as he lay sobbing, his knees tucked tighly to his chest. A part of him still believed she would return.
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She had no idea how long she had been walking, all she knew was that it had to have been close to noon, and she was starving. Unfortunately, the level of destruction had thus far prevented her from finding any place she could search for food. Her only hope, she had decided hours earlier, lay in one of the suburban areas outside the immediate city, where ,hopefully, the destruction was lessened enough for some buildings to still be standing. The independent power supply in her plug-suit had finally died several hours ago, consequently killing the device that helped keep the form fitting neoprene suit cool, giving her the feeling of being in a sauna, but, she reasoned, its better than walking around naked. A voice in the back of her mind warned her that she would soon suffer from heat exhaustion unless she stop, or drink some water… preferably both. The circumstances dictated that she would have to settle for the former, so she soon found a shady spot in the rubble to rest for awhile. As she got as comfortable as her accommodations would allow, the exhaustion hit her full force. To hell with this… I'm waiting for the sun to go down. It didn't take long for her stomach to add to her misery.
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For what seemed the longest time, Shinji simply refused to let the beach out of his sight. He just couldn't believe she would leave him here to die like this. In fact, it wasn't until the sun had set firmly behind the horizon did Shinji finally lose hope for her return. At a complete loss at what it was he should do, a deep rumbling from his abdomen made his mind up for him. I guess… I better go find some food…
Head hung low, staring just ahead of his feet, Shinji headed out toward where he prayed to whatever deity would listen, Misato's apartment building was suppose to be. If by some miracle it's still standing, he thought, I might have a chance… damn, I wonder how far it is from here…
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The sun was down, finally, putting an end to Asuka's fitful rest. For her, the day was excruciatingly long and especially grueling. Sitting in the shade, which had provided little in relief to the heat and humidity, left her body depleted, and on the verge of collapse. At the bear minimum, she needed water, and she needed it fast. Stumbling away from the rubble that had once been her shelter, she almost clumsily made her way towards the outskirts of the city.
It didn't look like much, in fact it looked as though it might collapse at any second, but it was obvious that the small building merely a hundred yards away had once been a convenience store. Though, after endless hours of walking through the ruined city, it was more of a godsend.
Along the way, Asuka had depressurized her plug suit, tying the arms of it around her waist, finally allowing the suffocating heat that encased her body to escape into the significantly cooler night air. It wasn't exactly one of her finest moments, as the heat had finally broken her down, the whole incident taking place at a maddening, desperate pace. The pure ecstasy of the resulting release of heat had left her in a near orgasmic state for several moments as the wind gently blew over her exposed torso, pleasantly cooling the sweat that clung to her body. The nearly full moon bathed her pale chest in a light glow, the innumerable scars crisscrossing her body providing a stark reminder of the not so distant past. Normally such a display would have disgusted her, the thought caused her to pause, but, she had realized, she didn't exactly care at the moment.
Breaching the threshold, the sight of the interior gave her pause. The sight of isle, upon isle of cheap foodstuffs, and refreshments sent her spirits soaring. She quickly sprinted to the far wall, tearing open one of the cooler doors practically off of its hinges, she grabbed the biggest water bottle within reach. Relieving the bottle of its cap, Asuka immediately downed half of the bottle.
At first the feeling of the relatively cool water working its way down her throat, and into her stomach was pleasing, and in her fervor she kept drinking as quickly as her need for oxygen would allow her. That is, until a wave of dizziness, accompanied with a touch of nausea hit her full force. Lowering herself down to the debris strewn tiles, she almost immediately began to retch, spewing forth the water as well as a healthy amount of stomach acid out onto the floor. The feelings of relief dramatically, and immediately flip flopped. Ugh… I feel like shit… guess I was taking it a lil too fast… swiping an arm over her mouth, she took a swig of water, swishing it around in her mouth before spitting in out onto the floor to rid her mouth of the acrid taste. For the next twenty minutes or so, she stayed on the floor, basking in the cool feel the tile had upon her bare skin, taking substantially smaller sips of the bottle of water.
Getting to her feet, Asuka grabbed another, smaller bottle of water, and started wandering around the small shop. As she turned the corner to head down the next isle, her injured arm inadvertently bumped a wire rack display. The lightning bolt of pain caused her to yelp, as well as jerk her arm to her chest. It was then that she noticed a thin red line running the length of the filthy bandage, which slowly started to widen. "Oh hell…"
Asuka's hand was shaking against her will, as she gingerly unwound the bandage encompassing her arm. Down to the final layer of gauze, she hesitated as she realized that peeling this layer off would hurt… a lot. Several deep breathes later, the gauze began to peel away, forcefully tearing the clotting blood from the wound. Jesus… she thought; that's a lot of blood. Using her water bottle, Asuka rinsed away the blood before following it up with generous dousing from a cheap bottle of whiskey, which had helped slightly with the pain just prior to its use as an anti-septic, albeit burning her throat, and almost causing her stomach to rebel once more. Several emergency first aid kits found on a nearby shelf provided the needed materials to rewrap her arm. She openly wept as the horrifying injury slowly left her sight.
Finished, and exhausted, a brief look out the shattered front window told her that the sun, once again, was beginning to rise.
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As the sun rose, the increasing intensity of the light had forced Shinji to squint his eyes to see the path before him. The night's long had walk drained him of his energy, his legs felt like he was pulling lead weights attached at the ankles. A wave of relief washed over his features, as he made out the sun-bathed outline of the apartment building, though he could tell it did not go untouched by the devastation. Nearly half of the structure had collapsed in upon itself, yet miraculously the corner in which the residence in question resided in was left seemingly untouched.
Picking his way through the debris, he could make out the main staircase adjacent to the elevators. Soon, he told himself; not too much farther, and I can rest. Just gotta keep moving…
As Shinji made his ascent, his normally blue t-shirt, black with sweat, and his white button-down likewise soaked through, he tried to ignore the burning in his legs. It was very nearly to the point where he was becoming dizzy from the effort, his exhaustion reaching its peak, threatening to render him unconscious. Crawling the last few steps, Shinji finally made it to the appropriate floor, and collapsed, sweat creating an outline of his body on the dusty concrete. Absently turning his head to the right, he could make out the door to the apartment. I… I made it… oh this feels good, I think I'll lie here a bit longer… just a lil while longer… with that, he faded quickly from the conscious realm, into the deep, dreamless sleep that his body so desperately required.
Around mid-afternoon, the sun finally breached the low concrete wall which lined the walkway, allowing the light, and heat to assault Shinji's body directly. Waking slowly, his body stiff, and still incredibly tired, Shinji cracked open his eyes only to shut them soon after, when the sun tried to burn his retinas out of his skull. The events prior to his collapse came back to him as he half crawled, half dragged himself back towards the shade. The relative coolness of the shade felt good, until his still drenched clothing made it uncomfortably cold. Gathering his waning strength, he rose slowly to his knees, then on increasingly shaky legs, got his feet under him. After a few steps, he was back in the swing of things, slowly approaching the pneumatic door knocked slightly ajar by the combined effort of the shockwave, and the building itself during it's partial collapse. Luckily for Shinji, the door itself was constructed from a lightweight, yet very durable, aluminum alloy which allowed, even in his condition, him to push it aside with only moderate effort.
Beams of sunlight streamed into the apartment through the windows, and the now half-open door, highlighting the dust particles that floated lazily through the air. Much of the contents within were strewn about the place in relative chaos. Passing through the narrow threshold, Shinji made his way into the kitchen without bothering to remove his shoes. The refrigerator door had apparently swung open at some point, causing a large contingent of adult beverages to spill out onto the floor. A couple cans had burst upon contact with the tile, resulting in an interesting spray pattern, long dried, on the walls, as well as a few remaining puddles. The resulting stench was overbearing for the young man. Any other time, he might have retched, however the lack of food in his gut seemed to remedy him of that. On his way past he grabbed two warm bottles of water, and made his way over to couch where he unceremoniously collapsed onto the couch. To tired to think, he downed a bottle and a half of water, before allowing his consciousness to slip away.
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When Asuka awoke, she was freezing. This was something that confused her, especially considering the fact that it was just past midday. With the realization that it was probably a fever, the room suddenly felt a bit colder. The reason she had a fever, however, made her shudder. Fever… infection?…I..I need antibiotics… or I'll…Scheiße. It only took a glance at her shoulder to confirm her fears, the red streaks that seemed so much like the bloody fingers of death himself, reaching out for the shattered remnants of her soul. Dismissing her thoughts, she set about scrounging for a meal.
The lack of power reduced her options quite effectively. She was forced to eat out of cans that she managed to pry open with a cheap pocket knife displayed by the cash register, supplemented by a couple of candy bars. It was a good meal, all things considered. The former proprietor, apparently a male, was kind enough, regardless of not having a choice, to leave behind a set of clothes drenched in LCL. The pants, not being of proper size, were unfortunately not an option, but the light blue button down would work nicely, and, by the look of things, had already dried out on the makeshift clothesline.
By the time Asuka finished buttoning her new shirt, she most decidedly felt downright miserable. The fever having apparently intensified, her need for medication doing likewise. Gathering her strength, Asuka made a quick pass over the store gathering temporary supplies, placing them in a backpack she found behind the counter that had once held college books, and papers. Mr. Tamesake, the man whose shirt she now wore, wouldn't be working on his thesis anytime soon anyways.
Coughing, as she walks out of the store, a street sign catches her eye. 233rd and Osaka… so that's where I am. Now having her bearings, Asuka points herself in a westerly direction, and begins walking, backpack slung haphazardly across her back.
It is by no means easy to hike while stricken with a fever, let alone much of anything. This fact made itself vividly apparent after the equivalent of a city block. Every joint in her body was aching, her head throbbing, and her body felt like a giant lead weight, yet she endured and continued on. By the third mile, her skin looked pale, shirt soaked in a cold sweat, and she no longer walked a straight line. It is a testament to her determination, that she had made it this far, let alone any further, yet it is beginning to wane. Desperate frustration has already begun to set in. Her footsteps start to slow, likewise getting smaller by the step. Finally coming to a stop, she slumps to her knees.
"It's hopeless…" she whispers to herself; "I'll die before I find a pharmacy… if there's even one still standing." She takes a deep, shuddering breathe, and wipes the sweat from her brow. So tired… Her head hangs, and she allows herself to close her un-bandaged eye. Her thoughts begin to drift away, waiting for the warm embrace of unconsciousness. Something in her mind registers the fact that her backpack just hit the ground beside her, and that's good… it might make a decent pillow.
'Come die with me…'
'Come die with me Asuka… lets die together'
I don't wanna die…
'You know you want to.'
"NO!" Asuka's eyes shoot open, as she screams out the word. The sudden rush of light momentarily blinding her, as she nearly jumps to her feet, snatching the backpack on the way up. "I'm not gonna die. Not here, not now." Her voice grew quiet, as she finished the last half of her pledge. With new found determination, Asuka sets out with only one goal in mind… survival.
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Shinji awoke with a start, the nightmares, or flashbacks (whichever you prefer), which plagued his dreams had robbed him of precious sleep. This was the first time since his momentary godhood that it had happened, it wouldn't be the last, not by a long shot. His bloodshot, and half lidded eyes scanned his immediate surroundings, eyeing the remains of one of his water bottles he clasped onto it. The room temperature water relieved him of his parched mouth, yet reminded him of his empty stomach.
Rising slowly from his seat, Shinji walked into the putrid kitchen. Wrinkling his nose up in disgust, he set about searching the cupboards for some semblance of food.
As he finished his meal, thoughts of Asuka started to creep into his head. Shinji couldn't help but worry for her, his last memory of her not exactly reassuring. As if on autopilot, he began straightening up the kitchen, while his mind relentlessly fretted over the second child's welfare. Vicious scenarios played through his consciousness, depicting her in varying states of distress. Needless to say, it didn't much help with his already shattered nerves.
The kitchen now clean, he still didn't know exactly why he cleaned it, Shinji moved to his spartan bedroom. Picking a clean school uniform from his closet, he began changing his clothes. He noticed midway, that his hands were involuntarily shaking. Holding his right hand level with his eyes, he examined it silently in detached wonder. His ragged breaths sounded loud in his ears, growing to a climax, then as if the microphone was unplugged, silence abruptly and irrevocably ended the spectacle. A moment later, his mind registered that his hand had indeed stopped shaking. Flexing it a few times in silent wonder, he finished getting dressed.
Walking out of his room, a harsh flash of sunlight filtering in from the shades hit his eyes. No sooner had he walked out of the light, he was back inside his evangelion. A giant ethereal Rei seemed to engulf his entire view screen, it's head down. His shocked mind detachedly realized that he was screaming. He knew exactly what was going to happen next, and it frightened him more. The ghostly white head in front of him suddenly jerked up, revealing the two glowing eyes. Shinji's throat hurt from the screaming. He panicked, as Rei attempted to grasp his eva. He ran. Unfortunately for Shinji, he wasn't getting anywhere, that is until he ran harder, and lost his feet for the effort. The sensation of falling caught him off guard, of course the hard smack of his head against something he couldn't see didn't help.
Everything went dark. For a fleeting moment, he thought he was dead. That is until the tingling sensation of a limb without proper blood circulation made itself painfully apparent, it had been that way for awhile, and his elbow hurt to bend it. Opening his eyes, Shinji realized he was splayed out, half on and half off the couch, his head against the floor, and left arm pinned beneath his chest. Shinji groggily rose to his feet, all the while flexing the pain from his elbow. Flashback… he realized, great. The significant lack of light, he realized, meant that he had been out for awhile. Asuka…
He mind set, and Moving swiftly, he strided back into his room, grabbing his bag. It was still partially packed from when he had last ran away, so he only threw in a couple extra pairs of clothes, his SDAT, spare batteries, and what food and water he could fit. After a longing look at his cello, Shinji walked out into the twilight. He would find Asuka, this he was sure of. As far as what happened after that… well at the moment he could care less. He is a man with a mission, and it is what gives him purpose. For the first time in his short life, he is truly determined, driven.
Author's note: Wow, the first chapter is finally done. It took awhile, but in this Iraqi mud pit, I have plenty of time for writing… and playing countless hours of solitaire. Anyways, please review, I'd love your feedback. I already know where I want to take this, and it's going to be a daunting task to get it there. Never fear, however, It will be finished. Hopefully before I return to the states. Thanks for reading!
P.S. Hooray for me I got promoted!
21 April: Well, hope that is a lil better… I noticed I didn't have very many repeat customers, please keep reading it gets better… I promise. Oh, and you may have noticed the time between the dates was rather long… I was on vacation, and damn it, this story didn't even cross my mind. Oh well.