I will say these things in advance: I have absolutely no rights to NGE, but you should have already known that.
Yahoo! Finally, after such a long time, the story is COMPLETE! Yes, I did it, I did manage to complete the story for you, my readers! Ok, I had to hasten in this last chapter, as I'm again on the verge of a writer's block, but I did it, and I hope it isn't too noticable.
Nonetheless, it is COMPLETE!
NOTE: I have completed a re-compilition of the story in pdf-format with better formatting and lots of pictures (a number I had to tweak). Now I will send everyone who is interested the whole story (it is divided into three seperate books). Note that the pdf-version also has bonus material in form of extra pictures and the background texts you've already seen in the previous chapters!
If you want this version of the story, just give me a note, and I tell you how to get it from me.
After you've read the chapter, please Review! Please tell me your opinion. I promise to answer every review I get. Now that the story is complete, do so even more!
Chapter 42: Recovery of what once was lost
Adam felt like Lilith had kicked him into the head at least ten dozend times. However, being in pain at least told him that he was still under the living. His body was as heavy as lead and he felt his strength only slowly returning. Opening his eyes wasn't that high on his list of things to do, but he knew that he had to.
The first sight that greeted him with the early dawn sky, the rising sun painting it in shades of yellow and orange.
That was not very informative, so surpressing a groan, he slowly moved his head to see, that he was lying in a crater -no doubt the result of his hard impact- with numerous humans having set up their equipment at the upper edge, monitoring him. That was a good sign. Had they mistrusted him, they'd have used the opportunity to get rid of him while he'd been helpless. However, he was unable to understand any of them, their voices simply being to small for him to understand.
Again feeling the huge mass of his body weighting him down, Adam decided to do something about that. Drawing some strength from his lance, he did a trick that would make it easier for him to heal from his injuries and hopefully make him look less intimidating.
The things I do...
Everyone looked in awe when all of a sudden the huge, pale-glowing giant suddenly started to shrink (and everyone wondered how the lance was shrinking as well), until an human-sized being stood down in the center of the crater, already looking much healthier with a stronger glow surrounding him. Feeling better, Adam levitated up to the edge of the crater, touching down in the midst of the people there. Hopefully they wouldn't notice him leaning on his lance.
For some moments, everyone just stared at him.
He should have known that he was still intimidating them, which was no wonder after all the destruction his children had caused. So he had to take the lead. "I am not here to do you any harm. Please show me the way to your leaders."
It had been a pain. He really wasn't made for diplomacy, so it had taken him almost half an hour. But finally they'd escorted him -the soldiers holding their weapons ready, as if this would do them any good- to a hill where the makeshift command centre had been errected.
On the way he'd seen how much destruction the battle had caused. What had been a city nestled in a peaceful landscape, had been turned into a debris- and body-filled battlefield. He could literally smell death in the air. When they'd finally reached the hill, he'd seen the lilim's battle machines leaning against it.
And now here he was. After their initial surprise, these people were quite direct, and he liked it this way.
"...she is no more. Every last bit of her was vaporised, when she overloaded herself," he concluded, then waited for their questions.
While he waited, the people gathered in the makeshift command centre (very makeshift, considering it was a big tent with no side walls), were in different states of emotion.
The military of course mistrusted Adam. After all, he was an Angel, and those were mostly known for destruction. The NERV command, formed by Gendo, Fuyutsuki, Ritsuko and Misato, was more open-minded, especially since they knew that should Adam have wanted to destroy them, they wouldn't be there any longer. The pilots stood a little apart. Now that there was nothing more to fight, they felt like the fifth wheel. They also had to think about poor Mana, who right now was sleeping with the help of sedatives, since she'd been unable to find any sleep after all what she'd seen and done the day before.
"So, now what?" Misato finally broke the silence. "You should know plain clear that while you helped us by destroying Lilith, we still can't fully trust you. Not after everything that did happen." She had to try hard to stay calm. His presence made her nervous.
"This is a sad matter of fact. The destruction caused by Lilith and my children will make it impossible for the forseeable future to show me any trust. Nonetheless, I want to help undo some of the damage done. While what's dead and past can't be returned, wounds can be healed and injustice undone."
"'Injustice undone?'" Ritsuko asked in a way that made no secret that she was somewhat disappointed that Adam had to resort to corny comicbook-lines.
"Please, I was created to seed and guide life, not to be a conversationalist." Adam then looked outside, towards the Evangelions. "I know everything from my son. Two lives were stolen..." Ignoring everyone else, he walked out of the tent. "...and to heal this world, I shall begin here."
They had no way to do anything, especially when Adam grew back to his original size, standing in front of Unit-00 and 01. Looking at the huge Evangelions, he rose his hands and the chest armor simply peeled off, revealing the cores. Sure there were numerous sparks, smoke and it sounded like a car in a compactor, but the cores themselves were unscratched. It was at that moment where it became painfully clear that Adam was way more powerful than any Angel they'd ever encountered, meaning that they wouldn't have survived a battle against Lilith, who propably had been equally strong.
Adam looked at the dull orange spheres, as if studying a mechanism to find out how to operate it. "A very crude replication of the technology of the Ancient Ones. Only the organic part... No wonder that this is so horribly unstable."
"Could it be? All the time he knew how to get them out of there?" Ritsuko wondered aloud, while watching Adam. Despite what she'd promised her mother, she'd had only little hope of ever succeeding with getting her out of the EVA.
Gendo didn't say anything. All these years, he'd conspired to bring about the end of the world, just to be re-united with Yui. And now it could turn out that freeing the world by doing what was right and just, could return her to him. His hopes to again hold her in his arms had been very slim, so he was unable to really cope with this now coming out of the blue. He could do nothing but watch and wait.
Finally, Adam was done and his glow extended to the two Evangelions. The cores lit up and both units protested, roaring like injured animals, but the glow held them firmly in place. "No, you won't keep them!" Adam hissed. "You have had them for years. Give them free!"
Both Evangelions were unwilling, Unit-01 snapping at Adam's arm. It seemed that both of them were running amok, but Adam was capable of holding them, even though it did cost him lots of strength, considering how he was shaking. "All right. I wanted to do this the easy way..."
Energy hit the cores directly, causing them to flare up bright-yellow.
The roaring of the EVAs faded, making room for screetching. It seemed that they were in lots of pain, fearing for their very lives. On the cores, two shadows took the form of human beings, then the outer shell of the cores started to crack like glass, before it broke apart. In a wave of LCL, two human bodies landed in the palms of his hands, which he'd held under the cores, while the two EVAs slumped down, like puppets whose strings were cut..
Adam look at the two naked woman in his hands. They looked so vulnerable, covered in a sticky coating of LCL, shivering in the aftershock of their bodies re-forming after so many years and he could feel their minds trying to grasp what had happened, although Yui Ikari was a little less panicked since she must have seen and heard what was about to happen, before her soul had been fused back into her body.
"Please tend to them. This is a huge shock to their system," he told the people watching him, while lowering his hands to the ground.
That finally brought everyone out of it. Medics rushed forward to do their job, quickly wrapping the two woman into blankets and putting them on strechers before checking their vital signs. Thankfully, despite being just returned to life, they were stable with no complications, just very weak. This was a wonder when remembering, that Naoko Akagi had been mortally injuried mere minutes before being absorbed. And after getting their eyes cleaned of LCL, both woman became aware of their surroundings.
Surprisingly, it was the elder Akagi who became fully aware first. Opening her eyes, the first thing she saw was her daughter. She was trying to remember. The last clear memory had been being put into the entry plug of Unit-00 while she was bleeding to death. A sharp pain, and everything after that was a haze of pain and anger. Her scientific mind came to the conclusion, that she must have somehow gotten out of the Evangelion and that her injuries during absorbtion had damaged her ability to remember that time.
"Since when have you stopped putting that stuff into your hair?" The elder Akagi knew that it was a completely stupid thing to ask, but it had been the first to come to mind when seeing her hair back to natural brown.
She's alright. After all she'd never made peace with me dyeing my hair, saying that we shouldn't try to emulate gaijin, Ritsuko thought, feeling relief that her mother seemed to be herself. She then noticed her mother looking around and her face turning into a mask of hatred when spotting Gendo watching over Yui.
"Mother, a lot has changed during the years when you were gone. I can't stand him either for what he'd done, but I don't want the hatred to poison me," she told her to attract her attention away from the man.
Naoko felt that it was not so easy. A big part of her wanted to beat Gendo to death for how he had wronged her on so many levels. Ritsuko's words however, reminded her of her late husband, who besides his scientific mind had also possessed wisdom that she was lacking. It seemed that her daughter had, after years of following her path, learned these lessons.
Meanwhile Yui was finally awakening.
She'd seen it coming, seen Adam approach and do his thing. Still, the process of putting soul and body back together had hurt like hell. It had felt like being ripped out of a warm home and being thrown into an ice-cold ocean. The shock had made her black out, something she was thankful for. Currently, she felt weak, but being able to feel at all was worth it. Opening her eyes, she as greeted with three faces; two very welcome and one only under conditions.
Ignoring her husband for the moment, she turned her attention to Shinji and Rei., giving them a smile. "It is alright, you two can hug me. I won't break."
They took her by the word and both gave her an extended hug. Yui knew that despite having faught in a war and having discovered the secret of love, Shinji and Rei in some aspects still were children. One of these things was, that they needed to be reassured that there is someone who cares for them. After the hardships of the last day, they also saw her as a source of emotional warmth, which would help them to cope with everything that had happened.
Finally they parted. "I... I still fear you'd could vanish at any moment," Shinji tried to get his current feeling into words. To have back all of her, to be able to feel her, hug her, that was something that deep inside he'd missed all these years.
"Don't worry. I'm now how for the long term..." Simple words that helped to put his fears to rest. "I'll make up my long abscense, I promise." She then turned her attention to Gendo. "Gendo Ikari, front and center, now!"
Gendo knew that voice. She'd meant that as an order to be followed at once. Not wanting to incur her anger, he did as told, then waited for what he had known for some time, would be coming. Silence lasted for long seconds, before Yui broke it. If Gendo had expected to be slapped, he was in to a disappointment, as Yui stayed peaceful.
"Alright, Gendo Ikari. I bet you expected me to be quite nasty to you, but I'll disappoint you. You are in luck that I had months to calm down and to make fire under your butt to get you make up for everything you did. That does not mean you are of the hook, of course. Surely you wonder what will come next?"
"Yes, dear." He knew, disagreeing was pointless and only would hurt him.
"Good. After all this time, I will give you a second chance. For now you are on probation. Once you have proved to me that the change for the better is permanent, I'll return all these previliges to you that you've lost for now. Deal?" However, Yui's tone of voice made it clear that the deal was already in effect, and his approval not needed.
"Yes, dear." What choice had he otherwise?
"See, it wasn't that difficult..." Yui held a triumphant smile, knowing that Gendo would not break his word out of fear how she could react. Noting some light to her left, she looked outside the tent, and lost her smile. "Uhm, what is he doing?"
Everyone looked outside, to see something impressive.
Adam had slammed the aft end of the lance into the ground, so that it stood straight up. He was glowing much stronger than usual, channelling all the energies into the now also glowing lance. As if feeling their eyes on him, he adressed them. "I healed you. And like I healed your wounds, I will now heal the wounds of the world."
White light errupted from the lance, making it look as if everything was bathed in a sort-of white mist. Everyone felt a little lightheaded before they began to feel...great. This light felt wonderful, as if all their trouble had been taken off them.
From Japan, the white light started to spread, transversion oceans and mountains without any problem. All over the world, people stopped whatever they did, and the white light embraced them as well. Finally, the whole globe was covered in a cloud of light. The Earth seemed to let out a sigh of relief when the red glow at the South Pole was sucked up by the light and the axis of the planet corrected itself.
After some long minutes, Adam pulled the light back into himself, leaving behind a world which he'd given a gift to compensate for what Lilith had done to it.
Seeing that his job was done, Adam took his lance and then shrinked himself back to human size. Approaching the astonished group, he saw their puzzlement what exactly had happened. "I think you wonder what I have done?" No answer, it seemed they were still stunned by this display. "Well, I'll tell you nonetheless."
"Essentially, I tried to repair the damage done by Lilith. As I said, I can not bring back things that are dead and past, therefore I decided to cleanse the world of her influence and compensate you for all that happened. Some of you will surely by now feel a difference."
That finally shook them out of it. And yes, they did feel different. More refeshed, healthier. Both, Yui and Naoko, no longer felt weak. Ritsuko noticed that that heavy feeling in her lungs from years of chain-smoking was gone. Misato felt through her shirt, that the scar on her chest was gone, only smooth skin in its place. As they soon discovered, healing obviously only meant damage done, not natural weaknesses, as the sight of people wearing glasses was still impaired.
Of all of them them, Rei felt the strangest. As if part of her had been completely changed... in a good way. Facing Adam, she directly demanded: "What have you done with me?"
"There is no reason for concern, I did not do you any harm. I just gave you my special attention and removed the curse of Lilith from you. I replaced all what you inherited from her with healthy human genetics. I think you'll appreciate that you now are guranteed to have very healthy offspring."
Ok, that was information Rei didn't want to discuss in the open, so she directed her question someplace else. "How can my hair still be blue, if I have completely human genetics now?"
"I felt that your looks have become a part of you, so I created pigment genes for blue hair... You want it some other color?"
"No!" Ok, now that he did ask her, she had become attached to her hair color. Natural blue hair, that was something to really make her unique.
That sounded like something big, metallic was collapsing. They soon saw, what, when looking outside. Unit-01 had collapsed into a heap of metal peces, the head sitting atop of it, and the other three remaining Evangelions followed suit. There was no sign of the organic material that the EVAs were made of, it was just metal and electronics. All of them looked questioning to Adam, knowing that this had to be his doing.
Adam shugged. "I used the opportunity to also collect all the organic matter created for your battle machines. The way you jury-rigged the organic components is downright dangerous and irresponsible. It's best to remove that from your hands until the Ancient Ones can teach you, how to use it properly."
Ritsuko and Naoko felt insulted their their was was described in such terms. However, none of them would now dare to actually insult Adam, after all they had no way to possibly oppose him, meaning that they could only hope that the being would now stay true to his word, although his acts up to now spoke to his favor.
"Now there is only one more loose end..." Adam looked to Asuka, who felt very uneasy with the attention she got from the godlike being.
...deep inside the geofront...
The white light gave the whole room a cold atmosphere, which was only underlined by the cold temeratures that were used to keep the organic matter of dead bodies fresh. The morgue of the medical section wasn't used often, right now only holding one body: the one of Kaworu Nagisa, also know as Tabris, Angel of free choice.
Asuka felt uneasy, looking at the cold body of her boyfriend. "I thought you can't bring back the dead?"
"I can't," Adam acknowledged, while studying the body. "While I can create a living body, the mental aspect of a person I can't bring back from wherever it goes. However, for my son the situation is different."
"How so?" She knew Kaworu had told that the all-father could grant him a second chance, but she didn't know what to make of this. The sheer idea that he could ressurrect him was threatening to overload her mind. After all, dead was dead, right? And people usually only came back in comic books.
"When my children died, their essences returned to me, so that I can decide what will happen to them. For my son Tabris, it is even more. Since he'd carried my very being with him, his emotions and memories are held by me, therefore I'm able to return him to life," Adam explained, while looking at how much damage Lilith had done to his son's host body. "Please step back, I'm about to begin."
He didn't have to tell her that, his growing glow made her step back automatically. Fascinated she watched him defrosting the body within seconds and then starting with the repairs. Reconstructing a dead body into a living one obviously was a complicated process, as he didn't say a word while doing so. Asuka could see the progress until Kaworu's body again looked as good as it did when he'd been alive. However, something was still missing.
She look in sick fascination when Adam's hands phased into his own chest, pulling out a yellow-glowing sphere of energy, holding it in his hands. Asuka looked in fascination at it, being remined of how Rei had travelled to her current body. "Is this...?"
"It is... now for the final touch..." Holding the sphere over Kaworu's head, he let go and it sank into the head, vanishing.
For a moment, nothing happened. Then all of a sudden, Kaworu spamsed and coughed heavily! Asuka tought that something had went wrong and wanted to step forward, but Adam's outstreched arm stopped her. The action was words enough, he's expected this reaction. And true, Kawour seemed to calm down, his breathing returning to normal. Both of them looked in expectation when he opened his eyes.
Kaworu wondered, where he was.
He felt rather strange, as if something was truely different. He tried to remember. Lilith tricking him. Him dying and telling the whole story. Saying goodbye to Asuka. Sitting up, he looked around, and stopped dead, when seeing someone he'd hoped to see again. Disregarding the cold, he jumped up and hugged the glowing being.
"Father! You...you did come for me!" He couldn't believe how much of a reaction his father's presence caused in him, even stronger than normal.
"You are my son... You did so much for me... How could I not help you?" Adam felt truely happy. His son's happiness at seeing him was one of the bright spots since his re-awakening. "However, there is someone else who is also happy to see you."
Letting go of his father, he turned to see Asuka and another smile crept up his face. That was the other person he wanted to see. However, she, to his puzzlement, made no move towards him, instead she was blushing, the skin of her face trying to match the color of her hair. He wondered what she could find embarrassing, until he felt the cold, looked down and at last noticed that he was in his birthday suit.
"Oh." Now it was clear why she was embarrassed.
Grabbing the sheet, he quickly wrapped it around himself, before hugging Asuka as well. That brought her out of it, and she wasted no time with words; instead pressed her lips against his. Adam watched the scene with bemusement. Unlike what he and Lilith had had, this was real attraction, which could easily blossom into something more over time.
When their lips finally parted, Asuka and Kaworu felt very happy. And Asuka told him the one thing she wanted to make clear: "Don't you dare to leave me again."
...an hour later...
It was really strange to gather on clear field to officially see Adam, the first Angel, leave Earth.
Adam had told them that now that his mission was complete, he would return to the Ancient Ones to report the successful creation of intelligent life and a developed civilisation on the planet. That however also meant to report his own failure with Lilith and the consequences of this failure. He could only hope that the end results would cover for the havoc that Lilith had caused, so that the Ancient Ones would extend mercy to him and hopefully decide to not punish him for his failures.
"Father, when will I see you again?" Kaworu asked Adam.
The last hour had brought big changes to him. He'd learned that all of his body was no made-up by human genetics, since his father felt that after all, he and his girlfriend one day would want offspring, if everything goes the right way. Also, Kaworu had finally discovered that his father had had to set priorities. In order to not accidently blow up his head with too much information, he'd removed most of the theoretical knowledge, giving priority to personality and personal memories. A small sacrifice for being alive again.
"If the Ancient Ones show mercy and allow me to return with them, in five years." He hated to leave his son behind, but there was little choice. At least he knew that he was in good hands. "I will miss you, my son."
They hugged one last time, before Kaworu stepped back, allowing Adam, clutching the lance in his hands, to return to his original size. His body then wrapped intself around the lance in a way that normally was anatomically impossible, making it look as if the two of them became one. He hovered there for a few seconds, before taking off like a rocket into the sky, until he'd vanished into the blueness.
"I guess this closes the book on this chapter," Yui finally said, after Adam was long gone. "Let's hope that the world can be prepared for the visit of peaceful aliens in five years. After all we do not want an re-creation of countless science-fiction movies in reality."
Looking around, she guessed that nobody really had an idea what to do next, now that the whole thing was over. She also caught Naoko Akagi looking away, when seeing her. Propably guilt, since after all she and Gendo had done the nasty numerous time, and now she felt caught red-handed. Personally, she wanted to just ignore the woman, it was no use to get riled up over it now, especially after making up with Ritsuko. The elder Akagi also avoided Rei, which was no big wonder, considering what she'd done to the girl years ago.
She herself had no idea what to do now. After all, being trapped in an Evangelion core for over 11 years made planning for the future somewhat difficult. However, one thing she knew was, that after all this excitement, she only wanted some peace. A nice, boring life never before had it sounded so promising as it did now.
Shinji walked up to beside his mother, and then looked down to the ruins of what had been Tokyo-3, home to him for almost a year. "You know, we need to move..."
...five months later, Tokyo-2...
Finishing off the last of his miso soup, Shinji looked up and around the breakfast table.
It was hard to believe that five months ago, he'd been fighting for the future of mankind, and now he was back in the normality of a middle-class family life. Or at least, as close as it could get. Right at the moment, his mother was busy with putting away the dishes, while his father was hiding behind the newspaper -Shinji by now had learned that he didn't really read it. Rei was still nowhere in sight, her breakfast still untouched.
So much had changed in these months.
After the battle was over and Tokyo-3 totaled, the question had come up, what to do with the displaced people. In the end it fell to the government and they obviously wanted to make sure that they could keep an eye on everyone involved in NERV. There was no other explanation for why they'd built a completely new neighborhood in Tokyo-2, one where practically everyone who'd worked for NERV was now living, and even a lot of the families whose children were just potential pilots.
Not that he was complaining, it did keep all his friends in one place as well.
On the private side, things had considerably changed as well. The situation between his parents was... interesting, to say the least. Yui had made it pretty clear that Gendo was under probation and she'd be the judge on whether he had truely reformed, or not. This had resulted in some strange by-play like the newspaper-shield in the morning, but right at the moment it seemed like Gendo was on a good way to get back into Yui's good graces, them again sleeping in one room instead of seperate ones was an indicator.
His mother had expressed no desire to again work in anything big-time, wanting to enjoy a peaceful life. So she'd instead become a teacher for physics and mathematics; much to Shinji's disadvantage since she was teaching his class and was nagging him on his grades constantly. Good thing that she'd no classes today.
And his father had been damn lucky that the government hadn't decided to simply lock him away for good. Instead they'd put him into a totally boring job inside the government, where he could do no harm at all. Granted, it came with a good pay and great working hours, but it nonetheless was a fitting way of punishment. The bad news was, that it left Gendo with lots of free time to become creative with his hobbies.
And then there were him and Rei. Things were going good for them. Rei's transformation to a normal teenage girl was practically complete and both of them were finally free to act that way, which was a great relief. And while both of them had their own rooms, his parents had gotten used to them sharing a bed almost half the nights in a month. After all, they'd earned it by saving the world, and his parents wouldn't interfere.
By now Shinji wondered what was taking Rei so long. He remembered her wanting to take a bath before coming to the breakfast table, but she hadn't shown up.
"Shinji, shouldn't you go to school now? Otherwise you'll be in a hurry," his mother reminded him, being done with the dishes.
"Uhm, sure mom." Shinji hoped that Rei would hurry as well. There were a few rules they had, and one was, that Rei did not want to be disturbed, when bathing alone.
Watching their son leave, Yui turned to her husband. "You can put that thing down now. I wonder why you still insist on that ritual, after all you no longer have to fear the stare of frosty death from me."
Putting down the newspaper, Gendo smirked. "Of course, I do. It's no longer for hiding from you, but to confuse our son. I bet he's still trying to figure out why I'm doing this every morning."
Yui liked it that her husband was developing this subtle sense of humor. All her patience had paid off and she did get him back from the shell he'd become over the course of ten years. She really considered allowing him back to her bed as well, since after all she was a woman with needs. That, and she really wanted to give Shinji a sibling, a baby brother or sister. Not that she felt the clock ticking, but she wanted it rather sooner than later.
She then again looked to the empty spot. "I'll check what's taking her so long..."
Watching her leave, Gendo knew he couldn't have found a better wife. He wouldn't have believed it a year ago, but he was indeed much happier now. "Looks like I'm starting to settle down..." He was about to take his coffee cup, when he heard the shriek of a paniced, female teenager.
"Urgh... I never liked these things," Ryoji complained while standing in front of the mirror, finally managing to get his tie right.
"Don't complain. That thing is part of the job, and you were not complaining before," Misato told him, while putting on her sunglasses.
Asuka watched the by-play while getting ready to leave for school. While she did so, she felt that it was very interesting how much things had changed in the months since the final victory.
They'd given her the choice to either return to Germany now, or stay in Japan until she'd come of age. That hadn't been a difficult choice, since after practically disowning her father, there was no one left to return to. That had been the moment where Misato had decided to be the responsible guardian and she'd to come to live with her and Ryoji in their new house in Tokyo-2. She'd to admit that it was fun living with them, although right now, Misato was kind of a pain.
No wonder, since right at the moment she was in the fourth month of pregnancy, and her hormones made her more weird than usual. Her pregnancy wasn't that noticable yet, but soon Misato would ask her husband if she'd grown fat, and this was an episode she wasn't looking forward to. The strange things she was eating were bad enough. Asuka had the feeling that Misato thought that having her around was good parental training, ignoring that a teenager was a completely different thing from a newborn.
Right then she heard the doorbell.
"Looks like your sweetheart is here. You have to give him this, he's always punctual," Misato commented, causing Asuka to roll her eyes in annoyance. It got old after the first two weeks. Walking to the door, Asuka had to walk around Pen-Pen. She still had no idea how a penguin could read the newspaper, but maybe that was a question better left unanswered.
Opening the door, she was greeted with the sight of Kaworu's smile. She found it nice that he was walking together with her to school. It was still a little hard to accept that he, who'd been an immortal before, had forgotten so much knowledge in his ressurrection that he'd to go to school again. Not that she was complaining, after all she got more of him this way. After all, Misato and Ryoji had put down their foot and said that while Shinji and Rei might live together, they had no space for another teenager. Asuka secretly suspected that they didn't want to catch them in the act.
"Well, that already brigthens up my morning," she told him with a smile, then saw Shinji walking down the road towards them.
"Well, we are ready to go, as well. Please try to not again get detention. That principal of yours is a sight I have no wish to see again for the near future," Royji cautioned Asuka, while he locked the door.
Pushing down her sunglasses, Misato added "Oh, and don't do any of the things that we would've done." Ignoring Asuka again rolling her eyes, she looked to Shinji. "No Rei today? Is there something I should know?"
Shinji made a point to ignore her teasing. "Hello Misato. Ryoji. Asuka, Kaworu, are you ready to go?"
"Children today have no sense of humor..." Misato grumbled, while watching them leave, before entering the car. "I'm still surprised how you convince me to let you drive."
"It was quite easy when you got sick after some of your own driving. I guess Junior here has something agasinst that..." he told her with a smile, while touching the small bulge in her belly. Thinking about this made him proud all over again.
Misato sighed. Yeah, while she was happy that she was expecting, she could do without some of the side-effects of pregnancy. For some time she'd been as sick as a dog and she'd caught herself eating stuff that made even her eating habits from before meeting Sinji look tame. Asuka had made a point of not being at the dinner table whenever she felt 'creative'.
It was not that they'd drawn the worst jobs. Working for the government wasn't that bad. But as expecting parents, they'd been banned from any kind of field work. Something among the lines that the goverment didn't want to produce even more orphans it had to take care of. One way or another, they were delegated to desk work for years to come, and Misato wondered if maybe it was for the best to settle down permanently.
After all, a quiet life also had its advantages.
"Be glad you're no longer living with Misato. Ever since she got pregnant, she's more weird than usual. Her mood swings are sometimes downright scary," Asuka told Shinji, while they walked down the road.
Walking by a garden with a grey-haired man being busy with tending to the plants, they greeted him. "Good morning Mr. Fuyutsuki."
"Good morning, children," he greeted back, before returning his attention to taking care of the flowers. When the government had made him the offer, he'd taken it at once and went into retirement. He'd felt that after all the excitement, it was what he felt the best. It gave him time to finally find his inner center, for his grandchildren and for occassional lectures at the university. Retirement had never felt better.
Looking around, he saw the first signs of Adam's repair of the damage done by Second Impact. The first signs of autum were visible, soon the leaves would change their color and many people would witness their first real autum. Looking up again when thought he'd heard something, he saw a comical sight.
There she was, Rei Ayanami, trying to catch up with the others, trying to call out to them. That was difficult with the slice of toast jammed between her teeth. Fuyutsuki could only smile at that sight. One fulfilled life from where before had only been emptyness.
Meanwhile Rei had finally managed to catch up with the others and busily wolfed down her toast, swollowing hard to make sure the dry bread would stay down. Looking up and eeing the questioning faces of her friends, she membled something, clearly embarrassed. They still looked at her, so she said more aloud "I fell asleep in the bathtub. That is the reason why I am late."
"Guess one of the side-effects of your cleansing is, that you are no longer punctuality personified," Asuka dryly commented.
Rei didn't want to comment on this, after all the whole thing wasn't the first time she was late. So they walked on, and after some time passed a house where two woman were leaving to make their way to the train station. Recognising Ritsuko and Maya, they gave them a friendly greeting.
"Hello children. How's school going?" Maya asked them.
By now it was common knowledge that she and Ritsuko were living in the same apartment ever since they'd moved to Tokyo-2. Ritsuko's mother hadn't been thrilled, but had kept out of it. And right now, they were both on the way to the university. Ritsuko had taken up teaching and had convinced her to take her sponsorship to strive for a doctorate. Since a Ritsuko had put it, anything else would be a waste of talent (although Ritsuko made sure to get her other telents...).
"It is going well. Our grades are good and none of us has been in serious trouble recently," Kaworu told them. He personally found it interesting. Besides being with Asuka, he'd have never thought that such a simple life could be so fulfilling.
"Not recently?" Ritsuko laughed "You deliquents better make sure you fulfill your quota."
Like Maya, Ritsuko had learned that not everyone was tolerant of their relationship, but felt that it wasn't other people's business. It was surprisingly much fun to teach students in her new job at the university and grooming Maya to become her equal was a task that gave her great statisfaction. Yes, life was great.
Walking on, they met two more of their friends at the crossroads.
It was no big surprise to see Kensuke, after all his father had been an employee of NERV and therefore had been moved into the new district. Mayumi on the other hand was a more interesting case. Since she had no relatives left, she'd been in danger of becoming a ward of the state. It was at the same time when everyone had wondered, what to do with Kaworu. Thankfully Kaldor Ikari came forward with a solution. Since he'd proven for years that he was capable of taking care of a minor and had the needed funds, he'd take guardianship of both of them.
Shinji's uncle had been a godsent. So far it had turned out to work remarkably well. The only thing that made them have some doubts about him was the fact, that for several months now, he was dating Naoko Akagi of all people. None of them could imagine what he was seeing in that woman. Kaldor insisted that she is actually very nice, but they hadn't yet found the nerves to actually talk with her.
"Again no Toji?" Shinji asked, already knowing the answer.
"You know him," Kensuke shugged. "Hikari again managed to become class representative, takes her duty serious and thus leaves early. We have to get used to Toji actually leaving early as well. I don't know what he wants to accomplish with it, though."
Mayumi giggled over his cluelessness. "He wants to impress her by helping out... Honestly, I only wait for when he accidently creates a mess. He's not made for that stuff."
Seeing that Toji and Hikari were already at school and that Mana was coming from a different direction and thus only meet them literally at the gates, they went on. Some distance further down the road, they saw two men talking, while one of them opened up his shop.
It was interesting how different way people went after leaving NERV. Shigeru Aoba had opened up a music store, which he right now was opening, while Makoto Hyuga had found work as a system administrator; work that allowed him quite flexible working hours. And it seemed at the moment he'd stopped by to chat with his friend. They then noticed the teenagers walking towards them.
"Hello, kids..." Aoba then turned to Kensuke. "I got the electric guitar you want. Come back this afternoon, and I can give it to you."
"Eh, can I postpone it to the evening?" Kensuke asked and Aoba simply accepted it with a shug. Ever since Kensuke had gotten rid of his hobby of military stuff, he'd found a liking to hard music. Everyone hoped that he'd show as much talent with a guitar as he did with a camera, or their neighbors would be out for his blood.
The final part of their way to school took them through the park. There they stopped to look at the most impressive sight in all of Tokyo-2.
"You have to admit, they found a good use for it instead of just scrapping it," Rei commented.
"Yes, thanks to how well it is build, it will serve as a memory for a long time," Kaworu added.
Sitting before them on a wide stone pedestal was the now empty metal-head of Unit-01, put up as a memorial for the Angel war. Even now as just an empty shell, it still looked intimidating and impressive. Engraved on the pedestal were the words:
In memory of the war of 2015/16 and the pilots who defended mankind against the menace.
Actually a good thing their names were mostly secret, as they had no use for that kind of fame that would leave them with no silent moment.
...some hours later...
It had been a boring school day so far, and currently it was between classes and everyone was busy with using the time before the next teacher would arrive. A good number of the people in the class had already been together on the Tokyo-3 middle school, so most knew each other.
For Hikari Horaki, middle school or high school made no difference, the duties of a class representative were still the same. Actually, she had even more to do now, only the fact that this time they hadn't a senile techer in his 70's saved her from getting too much of a burden. Thankfully she no longer had to fight for the survival of mankind, which in return meant that she and Toji had more time for each other. They'd become ...creative by now to keep with her mother's decision until they'd both turn 16 in several months.
That reminded her how both of her sisters became more and more annoying, constantly pestering her about the topic of her boyfriend. Kodama's suggestions had made her blush, while Nozomi had been an annoying little pest. It was nothing of their business, and Hikari wanted it to stay that way!
Looking to where she saw Toji sitting, she saw and heard him talking with their friends, his back to her. She was about to say something, when he said her name. Let's hear what he is talking about...
"And I tell you, people. I have absolutely no idea what still to do. Sure Hikari is thankful that I try to help her, but that stuff is so boring, how can she stand it?" Toji whined. His plan to be helpful for Hikari had proven to be more difficult than he'd first thought.
Life had been great for him, especially with a great girlfriend like Hikari and some of the X-rated stuff. But his latest plan had been a complete failure up to now. It was simply that he couldn't have everything. His sister was teasing him constantly about his relationship with his girlfriend and his father was on his case over his grades, saying that he now no longer has to save the world and thus have more time to learn for school. Sometimes life actually was unfair.
"Maybe because she doesn't find it boring?" Asuka interjected sarcastically. She honestly had no idea what the problem was. If he didn't like it, there were other ways to be helpful.
"Smartass... Right now I can only hope she won't look into the supply cabinet," Toji groaned, as if admitting a shameful secret.
Kensuke had a feeling what had happened. "I remember she told you to put the lists of assignments for the next weeks on the black board. The ones she wrote herself. Please don't tell me you lost them!"
"Not exactly... See, I accidently knocked an ink well over them and hid them in the...aaaaahhhhh!" He was unable to continue when suddenly Hikari seized him by the ear, looking unhappy. The others knew that right now Toji had managed to stir the wrath of Mt. Horaki. "Hiiiikaaariii, that huuurts!"
"It's supposed to. Toji, we need a serious discussion. Now!"
The others watched Hikari dragging the poor Toji away and Mana then finally laughed. "I feel a little guilty for laughing over his misfortune, but he really can only blame himself. I bet, had he went to her right away, she'd have forgiven him."
Of all of them, Mana had had the hardest time after the battle, since she'd actually faught and killed real people. She'd taken professional help, paid by the military, and by now she had mostly returned to her old self. With the crisis being over, she also no longer was on permanent call and had time to relax and enjoy life (as much as it was possible with school work). In a strange way she was actually relieved to still being single, saying that a relationship at the moment wouldn't be good for her.
"I wouldn't feel guilty. After all, he brought that over himself," Mayumi added. "I wonder what she'll tell him?"
Mayumi was propably the most drastical change from her days in Tokyo-3. Thanks to having friends that actually cared for her, she'd managed to grow out of her image as a wallflower and became more confident in herself. It also didn't hurt that she'd physically matured a good bit and put her hair into a ponytail. She now really looked like a different girl. Too bad for the few boys who had asked her out; she'd told them that she was already seeing someone, and that she wouldn't do that to him.
Mana then watched Mayumi giving Kensuke a smile, which he returned. "You know, I really have no clue what's going on with you two. The others make no secret of it, but you're still beating around the bush. Can't you two just do a public display of affection?"
Kensuke gave Mayumi an interesting look. "You tell her."
"Weeellll... My dearest Mana, we have actually decided to do non-puplic displays of affection." Seeing Mana's eyes widen, she giggled. "Get your mind out of the gutter. It just means we don't like kissing and stuff when others are watching."
Hearing the others laughing over how her imagination obviously had conjured quite dirty stuff about what she thought Mayumi and Kensuke were doing in their free time, Mana blushed.
...in the afternoon...
Normally they'd hang around with their friends in the afternoon, but today there was little chance for it.
Toji had managed to get detention and Hikari had stayed to make sure that he'd go through with it (and also to make it less of a pain for everyone involved). Asuka and Kaworu had been drafted by Misato to do her laundry, which meant that they'd be busy for the rest of the afternoon. Kensuke had invited Mayumi to the cinema while Mana wanted to enjoy a good book she'd found.
That had left Shinji and Rei with some free time to fill.
It was then, when Shinji had discovered a card he'd gotten almost a year ago. He'd totally forgotten about the martial artist and his wife, who they'd met in Tokyo-2 after visiting Yui's fake grave. There had been so much to do back then that they never had a chance to follow their invitation for trying out their lessons. But now they had more than enough time, and the family dojo also wasn't too far away from their neighborhood.
"Well, that must be it. Looks quite impressive, if you ask me," Shinji commented, while leaning against the railing that seperated the road from a steep slope. He had to concentrate looking to the house, trying not to look at Rei's nice white dress.
Rei had to admit, it did look impressive. "They seem to do well in business."
The first thing they noticed was the wall that seperated the proper from the road, only that instead of being rejecting, the open entrance gate made the whole thing rather inviting. The house behind the walls was equally impressive, showing off that the Saotomes must be rather well off. The dojo building near the wall being the most likely source of their wealth.
Rei then noticed the sign beside the entrance. "'Saotome-Tendo school of Musabetsu Kakutō Ryū. Challengers please ring the bell at the side entrance.' I do not think that we are here to challenge them."
Shinji let out a short laugh. "Yeah, despite having saved the world, we're weaklings compared to real martial artists. They'd mop the floor with us... Well, let's knock at the front door and hope they remember us."
However, they'd just reached the door, when...
"RYU SAOTOME! STOP RUNNING AND TAKE IT LIKE A MAN!"
"No way, mom! Not when you're like this!"
Shinji had no time to react, when the door was yanked open and a teenage boy roughly Shinji's age ran out, looking as if Cthulhu was chasing him. When he noticed the other boy, it already was too late and they collided hard into each other, falling to the ground. Shinji felt his head ringing from the hard impact. It'd felt as if the other boy's head was made of concrete.
Rei looked stunned for a second, before at once trying to pull Shinji out from under the teenager, although this proved more difficult than she'd first anticipated. Thankfully right then the boy was lifted off her boyfriend by a woman she recognised as Akane Saotome. To the other boy's misfortune, she did so by holding on his ears.
"Ooooww, mom! Please! I thought it would be funny!" he wined.
"Save that for your father. You know how sensitive he's about his problem, so putting your sister's undergarments into his drawer was cruel!" Then she finally noticed that they were not alone and let go of him. "Go to your room. I'll deal later with you." The teenager didn't waste a second to make himself scarce.
With surprisingly little efford, she pulled Shinji back to his feet. "I'm so sorry. I hope it didn't hurt too much."
"I've had much worse..." Shinji groaned a little, while holding his head. It was the truth. After things like being nearly boiled like a lobster by an Angel's energy beam, this was nothing at all. "I don't suppose you remember us?"
"Actually, I do. Blue hair is hard to forget."
Rei didn't say anything, but by now it started to annoy her that the first thing everyone remembers her by was her hair color. Yes, it was blue, a color not usually found in the human genetics, but that didn't make it any less annoying. She wanted to come to their reason for being there, when someone else walked out of the front door.
"Hey, Akane! Have you seen..." Ranma then noticed the visitors. "That's a surprise. Guess you did remember us after all and now want to take up on our offer on getting some lessons?"
Now that things were finally back on track, Rei spoke up. "We decided to see if it is something we like. We only need to know first, how much you charge."
Ranma rubbed his smooth chin. "Actually, I won't charge you two at all. You seem to be alright to me and I'll do it in exchange for you telling me your story where you pilot huge mechas." Seeing their shocked reaction, he added. "My eldest son goes to the same school. He of course has heard others from the destroyed Tokyo-3 talk about the pilots, especially a girl with blue hair..."
Shinji sighed. So much for staying anonymus after the end of the war. "Hope you have some time. That's a reeeaaly long story. And by the way, I never knew this pays so well you can afford such a big house."
"Actually, that's our old house from Nerima. We transported it here taken apart after Tokyo was destroyed. But let's get it. I'll make us some tea and then I can't wait to hear your story..." Akane offered them, and they walked into the house.
The sun was shining over Tokyo-2 in early autum.
The world was still healing from the scars of the past. Mankind had gotten a second chance, being freed from its creator and almost-executioner. What now was lying ahead, could only be pure speculation. The future, a new, undiscovered country.
A future without Angels or Evangelions, but with hope.
Note that I do have some ideas for a sequel. Basically it would involve Shinji and Rei somehow getting sucked into the Rebuild universe (propably Ritsuko's fault...) and really mess around with that universe's status quo and their counterparts. However, as I said, it's only an idea and I'm open for suggestions.