You Belong To Me

Disclaimer: Same as Chapter 1. I also do not own "I've Got You Under My Skin," written and performed by Frank Sinatra.

Chapter 50: Song of Solomon (Epilogue)

"Rei! Hey Wondergirl, over here!"

The slender blue-haired girl turned from her slow procession down the sidewalk at the sound of her old nickname and came face-to-face with a redhead only a few inches taller than herself, wearing her hair at just above shoulder length with a slight curl in the ends. For a moment Rei looked at the redhead peculiarly, but within a moment a smile spread on her face as an old memory came back.

"Asuka! Is that you?" Without warning, the redhead ran up and gave her friend a bearhug, nearly knocking the wind out of the more petite girl as she clumsily tried to return the affectionate gesture.

"Of course it is, dummy! How have you been?" Rei picked up the case she had dropped in her surprise, carefully ensuring that the laptop within had remained undamaged.

"Oh, I've been all right. I just got a raise at my job, so that's a good thing." Asuka smirked wickedly before replying.

"Hmph-- just enough to stay out of the poorhouse, right?" She started to laugh at her own joke, but stopped on seeing the dangerous look Rei was giving her. "Hey, I'm just kidding--you know me, I can't take anything seriously." Fortunately, Rei's frown melted into a more relaxed grin, ensuring that she had not been too offended.

"...So, how was Germany?" Rei inquired, changing the subject as they began to walk down the street together.

"Oh, same as always. To tell the truth, it's pretty boring over there. I'd much rather stay here with you guys." Asuka was quiet for a moment before she brought up the question she'd been meaning to ask Rei since she saw her. "...Hey, how are things goin' with you and the ol' ball and chain?" Rei rolled her eyes at the colloquial name for her husband of the last 2 years.

"...Things are good. I can honestly say that...we're pretty happy together." She noticed that Asuka was looking away pensively, so she decided to snap her out of it. "Hey, are you alright?"

"Huh? ...Oh yeah, I'm fine. It's came as a bit of a surprise to all of us. I mean, we knew you guys were an item, but we just didn't expect either of you to take the plunge, you know?" Rei gave an admissive nod, knowing how hard it had been to work up the courage to ask her companion of 5 years to marry her. Suddenly a silver-haired boy ran up to them, shouting Asuka's name. She gave him an exaggerated look of annoyance before it became a sardonic, yet happy, smile.

"I swear, you've got no manners. You don't just run screaming up to people without introducing yourself!" The silver-haired boy huffed in frustration.

"Well, then you shouldn't just wander off, I had no idea where you were!" Asuka said nothing, but she did seem a bit repentant when she spoke.

"Well, anyway, I guess I'll introduce you. Kaworu, this is my friend, Rei Ayanami. I've known her since junior high. Rei, this is Kaworu Nagisa." The two smiled kindly at each other as they shook hands. But at that moment, Rei gave him a peculiar look, as if he was blurry and she couldn't see him very well.

"...Have we met before?" Kaworu and Asuka only blinked in response. "I'm sorry," Rei said upon seeing their puzzled expressions. "It's just...I have this strange feeling--like I know you from somewhere else."

"Oh, you mean like deja vu?" Kaworu said with comprehension. " know, now that you mention it, I am sensing that a little bit." Asuka only let out a long, loud laugh as she heard them babbling to each other.

"I swear, you two are so weird! What are you even talking about?" The two pale adults opened their mouths to retort before realizing that Asuka was right. The whole idea was impossible, after all. Kaworu shrugged as he extended his hand to Rei again, who took it in a firm grip.

"Well, it was very nice to meet you, Miss Ayanami. I'm sure that with Asuka around, I'll see you a lot more."

"That would be nice," the blue-haired girl said kindly as Kaworu and Asuka turned off down a different street, arguing with each other over some insignificant thing but looking comfortable nontheless.

I've got you

Under my skin

I've got you

Deep in the heart of me...

It only took a few more minutes walking down the street to come across her apartment complex.

So deep in my heart

That you're really a part of me

I've got you

Under my skin...

It was a little run-down in places, but it was really very nice considering how low the rent was.

I tried so

Not to give in...

Also, it wasn't too far from the open-air market or the city park, a few places that had become just like home to her and her companion.

I said to myself,

'This affair--It never will go so well...'

She walked a few more feet to the elevator and impatiently pressed the button that indicated her floor.

But why should I try to resist

When I know so well

I've got you

Under my skin?...

The bell finally chimed as the doors slid open, and Rei stepped onto the landing, following the railing around to Room 402, sitting at the end of the hall.

I'd sacrifice anything, come what might

For the sake of having you near

In spite of the warning voice

That comes in the night

And repeats

Repeats in my ear...

She slid the key into the slot, turning it until it clicked quietly. She slowly opened the door to be met with the pleasant smell of tomato and squash being cooked in teriyaki.

'Don't you know little fool?

You never can win

Use your mentality

Wake up to reality...'

She set down the laptop near the door along with her shoes, then tiptoed onto the wooden floor carefully, hoping to sneak up on the apartment's only other occupant.

But each time I do

Just the thought of you

Makes me stop before I begin...

Sure enough, there he was in the kitchen, his back to her as he remained occupied with his cooking.

'Cause I've got you

Under my skin...

Shinji's medium-length hair matted on his face, slightly impairing his vision other than the vegetables sizzling right in front of him.

I'd sacrifice anything, come what might

For the sake of having you near

In spite of the warning voice

That comes in the night And repeats

How it yells in my ear...

He didn't even notice the return of his companion until he felt a pair of slender arms wrap around him from behind and a head gently lean against his back.

'Don't you know, little fool?

You never can win

Why not use your mentality?

Step up Wake up to reality...'

He stopped what he was doing and stood there with a smile, letting her embrace him as his hands found their way to hers, the ring on his left hand clinking quietly as it touched the band on her own finger.

But each time I do...

For a long time they stayed like that, neither saying a word, both perfectly content with each other's presence.

Just the thought of you

Makes me stop just before I begin...

Finally Rei broke the silence with a whisper.

'Cause I've got you

Under my skin...

"...I'm home." Shinji closed his eyes peacefully as he answered back.

"...Welcome home."


Final Thoughts and Acknowledgements

Wow! With that, my first long-term fanfiction is complete! It's taken a lot of time and effort, but I can honestly say that it's also been one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had with writing. I love the Shinji/Rei pairing, and I hope that over the weeks I've been doing this story that readers feel like I've done it some justice.

Speaking of weeks, I have to say when I started this I never expected it to become this long--50 chapters to cover what's essentially 4 episodes of the show! (LOL) Part of this is attributed to my cliffhanger-dependent writing style, plus my brevity when it comes to chapters (to anyone annoyed by this, I apologize.) Plus, the story underwent so many changes while I was writing it. Since I wanted to impose the idea that Rei's survival at the hands of the 11th Angel would in fact have a major effect on the Eva world, I had to consider a lot of things I hadn't thought about at first: Would SEELE act the same as in the series? What about the other characters? How would they change according to alterations beyond their control?

In terms of ideas, A lot of things sprang up during the course of the writing. I had it in my head pretty early on that Rei should become the last Angel, but how I went about it was uncertain at first. I had not intended to bring back Asuka until the end at first, and I didn't really plan on her relationship with Kaworu becoming what it did. I'm sure a lot of authors here can relate to the feeling that when you write a story, it slowly begins to develop a life of its own.

Ultimately though, I had not intended for Kaworu's development as it unraveled in the course of the story. I had at first unconciously cast him as the 'ubiquitous bad guy,' but to be honest I don't like to write characters like that. I think that in the end, he turned out to be a fairly dynamic character. And I don't really like Asuka either, but she kind of changed and grew as well.

I got a lot of threats :) and accolades for how I handled the last Angel battle between Shinji and Rei, and I think that it ended up becoming the emotional climax of the story. But what made that chapter special to me was that a few people mentioned that they were actually deeply touched by Chapter 38. It's one thing to be praised for your work, to be acknowledged for it, but it's a whole other feeling entirely to know that something you do has an affect on others, if only for a little while.

Anyway, now I'd like to extend my gratitude to the following people:

To Marine Brother Shran, Beowulf, NixRMax, Lone Wulffe, M.G. Lee and everyone else who reviewed regularly, thank you for your support and encouragement.

Thanks to the people of The Tales of Apartment 402, my new home of fellow R/S fans who also lent me their support.

A special thanks to Caphriel and Dark Plague for help with some Eva info I used in chapter 42, and to Anubis for some advice for chapter 49, even though I ended up not using it (blushes).

And ultimately, a shout-out to all the people who've stuck with this humble little fic 'til the very end.

BTW...I'm thinking about writing an A/U sequel to this story. If the readers want it, then I'll definitely write it, but not right away--I've got another R/S story I've been sitting on and want to get started on before too long.

Peace and Love,