Why do I even bother with a disclaimer? I think Gainax has done a pretty good job showing who owns what (yup, they own Evangelion, not me).

Thank you for taking the time to look at my first ever Eva fic! I got the idea for the story when I was really bored at work, but I liked it so much that I decided I would write it. I'm guessing it will be somewhere around 4 or 5 chapters when it's done, and as a bit of fair warning for people who loathe WAFF, this fic might end up a little Waffy sometimes, but I hope you'll keep an open mind. Also, if this prologue chapter seems a little "been there, done that", please bear with it, because I did not feel like I could write a post-Third Impact story properly without having at least having something covering the time immediately after EoE.

And yes, the title and premise of this fic were inspired by Shinji's monologue from Episode 16. It will be mostly a ShinjixAsuka story, however other pairings will be present as well. Two of my goals are to keep the characters as true to their Anime counterparts as I can, and try not to defy the canon laid down by the show. Now, please sit back and enjoy!

Humans weren't meant to float

By GeekViking86

Chapter 1 - Prologue – Hope and forgiveness

She's alive… I'm alive…I tried to choke her… What was I thinking? These thoughts permeated in the mind of the emotionally broken Shinji Ikari, as he hunched over the now conscious body of what seemed to be his only companion in this desolate new world.

Disgusting…What did she mean when she said that? From where he was sitting, everything looked disgusting… The blood red sky, the orange lake of LCL, the massive stone figures that were once Evangelions, and then there was the worst of it-- the giant, white face sinking into the orange sea. It had once belonged to his fellow pilot Rei Ayanami, another one of the women he had loved, and wasn't able to protect. From now on, he would be un-able to think of Rei without remembering what she really was, and how painful it would be to accept that.

No… The cynic in his mind told him. The bandaged redhead besides him was probably talking about him. And why wouldn't she think he was disgusting? Why shouldn't she? All of this was his fault, wasn't it? He violated her trust while she was comatose, and then when she needed him the most, he wasn't there. She died… I let her die…And the worst of all his sins was what they saw now… Third Impact, and the wounded planet that it had left in it's wake. And after all of this, he tried to choke Asuka, for no reason other than because he was angry, and needed something to remind him that anything was real. He began to sob even more, covering his face in shame, fearing that the girl's opinion of him would now only worsen.

"I am disgusting." He sobbed in agreement through his fingers.

What happened next surprised him though—almost as much as when the girl had reached out to caress his face, even as he throttled her… She sat up, put her arm around his shoulders, and brought him close to her.

She's so warm… I must be cold right now. He thought, his cries becoming slower and softer as the two teenagers slowly rocked back and forth.

"It's okay Shinji, I'm not angry at you." Asuka said softly into his ear. He had more or less given up on being surprised for today, and instead allowed her to continue.

"What happens now?" Shinji asked, his voice finally returning to it's normal state.

"We need shelter. This place gives me the creeps!" She huffed, sounding a bit more like the Asuka that Shinji knew. He nodded in agreement as she helped him to his feet. I feel like such a wimp. his subconscious complained.

The pair began walking away from the orange sea, not wanting to look back. They didn't really know where they were going, but anything was better than waiting around staring at that massive porcelain face.

Two days later, Shinji and Asuka were staying in a small log cabin they'd found out in the woods, and judging from what was inside they supposed it might have once been a station for forest rangers. It was well stocked with food, medical supplies, and blankets, but most importantly it was not near that awful pool of LCL and disembodied souls.

Upon inspecting Asuka's wounds, Shinji discovered that they really weren't anything to worry about. In fact, when the bandages were gone Shinji couldn't even tell if there was a scar or not, which left Asuka feeling relieved. She had suffered wounds much worse during her final battle with SEELE's mass-production Evangelions, and the fact that she was even standing here was probably only because of Instrumentality. Shinji shuddered a bit when he thought of this… Third Impact was a horrible act of destruction, but if it had never happened, Asuka would still be-- dead. Maybe…Maybe Misato and the others will come back someday, too…

Asuka found Shinji sitting at the Ranger's desk, fiddling with a knife and a large chunk of wood. It looked like he was carving something, but what it was for she wasn't sure. It looked like it was a small wooden boat, a suspicion that was all but confirmed when she saw two completed vessels laying next to him.

"What are you making?" She knew what he was making, but what she really wanted to know was why, and what for. Shinji stopped his witling momentarily, and turned the rotating chair to face her. He looked a little confused himself, like he wasn't quite sure how to answer.

"I'm making some little boats to send out on the LCL."

Asuka rolled her eyes. He's lost it. We're in a post-apocalyptic crap hole and he wants to play with boats?

"Why would you want to do that? Don't you have something better to do?"

Shinji shook his head a little, and then tried to explain.

"Look, it's just an idea I had. Please try not to make fun of it." He mumbled while picking up an un-lit votive candle from the desk, and doing his best to secure it in one of the boats. Asuka tried her best to do as he said.

"I was thinking we could send some of these out there with candles, and maybe they'll help our friends find their way home. You know, maybe show them that we miss them?"

Asuka almost wanted to laugh, but thankfully her conscience got the better of her. I had no idea he could be so… Sentimental. A small but sincere smile found itself sneaking onto Asuka's lips, but she did her best not to make it too obvious.

"Where did you get an idea like that?" asked Asuka.

"I don't know… I think I read something like it in a book once." He almost lost her there, but for some reason Shinji's kind gesture seemed appealing to Asuka. She soon found herself picking up a stray piece of wood, and asking...

"So, do you have another knife?"

On the fifth day, although they hated the idea of returning to the lake of LCL, the hope that somehow their kind gesture might actually bring back their loved ones was enough to send them back. Carrying around five of the little wooden boats each, along with a box of candles, the Japanese boy and the German girl made their way down the sandy bank until they reached the sickly orange lake, which fortunately now seemed to be free of Rei's haunting face. Whether it had evaporated, melted, or just finally finished sinking to the bottom, they weren't sure. Whatever the case, the place was much less unsetting now that it was gone.

They had also brought a small bag of dried fish to put on the boats as well, at Asuka's suggestion, oddly enough. 'If we send them some food, they'll know we're going to be hospitable when they come back.' had been her words. Shinji knew they would have to go looking for more food later anyway, so he agreed that they could spare a little in this small ceremony.

After placing a candle and piece of fish in each of the boats, Asuka looked at the orange liquid lapping on the sand.

"I think the tide-- if you can call it that-- is going out. Now's as good a time as any." She spoke. Shinji nodded and produced the brass flip-top lighter he found in the ranger's desk from his pocket, and began lighting the candles. Within moments, they were watching their small fleet of lights going out into the body of orange liquid. They both let out a silent sigh as the lights went further and further into the distance.

"Let's go, Asuka. Maybe we can do this again sometime." Said Shinji, feeling his mission had been accomplished, for now at least.

"Yeah…" She quietly replied.

They continued to walk through the sand, once again un-sure of what to do next, other than returning to the cabin, and possibly having another meal of MREs. They were both now looking at the moon above. The sky doesn't look as red tonight, does it?

"Stupid red sky. Is it ever going to go away?" Asuka growled, masking a bit of sadness.

"I don't know. I just want to see blue again." Shinji sighed in response. For some reason, saying that compelled him to look at Asuka… Her eyes were still blue, even if the landscape made it easy to forget.

"What are you staring at, dummkopf?" She said, catching him by surprise.

"N-nothing…" He sheepishly mumbled, averting his eyes from hers. We've still got a ways to go, I guess.

As they reached the edge of the sand, Shinji couldn't help but look back at the orange sea one last time. The boats had all but disappeared over the horizon, but that was not what was catching Shinji's attention. His eyes went wide as he saw something—or someone—sprawled across the sand. It was a person, a person he knew and cared about immensely… She had lavender hair and wore an officers' uniform, and seemed to let out a soft moan of fatigue. Suddenly there was no doubt in Shinji's mind as he ran full sprint through the sand to her side.

"Misato!" He cried as he held her, trying his best to choke back the tears. Suddenly, he found Asuka there too, turning the embrace into a full-on group hug, with one of the participants barely conscious. Before they knew it, tears were welling in all of their eyes, not even caring right now about anything other than being re-united.

"You didn't really think I'd leave you two alone, did you?" The older woman sighed into the space between her and her charges. The two teens choked back a few more tears as they pulled her in even closer.

She's alive. I couldn't protect her either. But I was able to save her, like I saved Asuka. Shinji pondered, and was overwhelmed by a warm feeling. A feeling that maybe, perhaps, he would be forgiven-- Not just forgiven by others, but by himself. Soon, his face was overcome by a smile—The first real smile he had made since before Third Impact.

Forgiveness brings hope. Where there's hope, there's a better tomorrow.

End chapter
Author's Notes

So, did Misato choose to appear when and where she did? Did Shinji's idea actually have an effect on her? I'll leave that for you to decide. This chapter was about the events immediately following Third Impact, however I must remind you that this is not going to be a survival story. Remember that this is just the prologue, and that the rest of the story will be a bit different in mood. Expect Chapter 2 to be much lighter, because we're going to be jumping ahead two years, when the world has started to re-build itself. Please drop me a review, because I love feedback, both positive and critical. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this, and God bless. :)