Chapter four " Turing the tide "

Misato dragged her self through the door an hour past when she intended. Pausing for a moment to look over the still unfamiliar surroundings. The apartment was larger then the one on the surface. Big screen TV, MAGI terminal, and central air all came with the place. Pen-Pen seemed to be out of his fridge more often, standing in front of the vents or watching TV.

It still made her sad though, technically not living WITH Shinji and Asuka. They lived up the hall in the dorms. Lots of spare rooms joined at a common room, with a communal bathroom. She tried to tell herself this was even better. It made things easier having a separate entrance for her and Kaji. Gave the tutors better access to the children with out disturbing Kaji or herself. Also she smiled a guilty smile, it also let them do certain things, without waking the children.

Not that any of this would stop her from spending most of her time down their. Some of it even on the clock, written up as physical training, i.e. taking the kids to the gym to make up for a lack of phys-ed, or Kaji's idea of paint ball as combat training outside the simulators.

As she went she dropped off her jacket on the couch.

Damn, looks like Shinji forgot to start dinner for once.

She made her way down the lone hallway toward the dorm. Misato realized just how much she hated that word " dorm " as she went. It implied they might need a lot more pilots before this was done, and the idea of an ARMY of children kept her up some nights.

Reaching the " common area " of the dorm she found Shinji asleep on the couch with the TV running. For a long moment Misato considered just letting the boy sleep, and pretend neither of them had to face what was coming. It only lasted a moment.

" Shinji wake up kiddo, we got company coming for dinner. "

Yui sat on the command station typing on her laptop, and not caring about the dull gray shielded network cable running up the side of it for all to see.

I need to ask Mr. Kaji just how much information he got off that wireless unit they used.

Accessing a restricted feed she normally wasn't supposed to, Yui grinned.

Don't restrict something from the person maintaining the computer system, you hide it in some forgettable subsystem they'll never touch.

Her screen came to life showing a darkened apartment and Shinji asleep on a couch. Yui blinked for a second as a Penguin walked across the screen and stole a bag of potato chips from beside the boy.
Silently she watched the boy, her son sleep there. As if searching for something, she pulled up stored footage while still watching the live feed. Images of a boy's life so alien to her flashed across the screen.

A tutor teaches math, he looks frustrated, while Asuka laughs.

How can two children that young living together be a good idea?

The time comes for a lesson in formal Japanese, and the situation reverses itself. Shinji ducks a pillow as Asuka's frustration starts a round of play fighting. It ended when the tutor got them both back settled down. Yui spent a long while just starting with a freeze frame of the fight, Shinji was smiling.

She was so tired of doing more reading about her son's life then seeing. Being a part of it. Yui'd accepted she'd given that up the day she entered the core. It broke her heart but it was true.

I've seen too much blindness since I've been back. Real understandable, human blindness though its was, it isn't forgivable. My husband went to war with God for my sake, and forgot about our son until he needed to use him . . like he did so many others. The he expected me to fall into his arms. ...

Yui paused for a moment noticing movement on the live feed of Shinji's dorm. Misato had walked in from out of frame, wearing the NERV uniform she'd taken to recently.

She'd given up caring how the woman dressed uniform or dress. For the first time she could remember, Yui Ikari envied another woman, as she watched her wake a groggy Shinji.

I left everything that matters unprotected, so he could protect everyone else. One builds a machine that runs on dead Mothers' souls, and must be steered by that woman's own child. If you're a woman that meets every requirement for that, and you have a child of your own, you're a hypocrite if you don't do what you ask others to do.

They walked together on their way to Misato's apartment. Yui made a mental note that the camera was positioned just right to know if two teenagers where getting too friendly or going off into the same room together alone. Then continued her line of thought.

Gendo shrank from him out of simple fear. He sent him to a place where he would have everything he needed, but a single person that cared. I traumatized the boy without meaning too, because he NEEDED to know I was in the Eva to call me out. I could protect him then. . I saw it as a sacrifice . . Shinji . . didn't. Mother was just gone, and no one cared about him. Forgive us, lord, we knew not what we where doing.

Yui paused her self flagellation yet again to examine the camera feed, as as Misato returned to the dorm common room to retrieve that odd Penguin of hers. For a moment she could swear Misato made eye contact with the camera, and Yui swore she was being watched.

I made a mistake that hurt my son, and shook the world all at the same time. Baka Yui, I'm sure. It's time to . . .accept that. Things can either be mitigated or they can't. I need to talk to my son.

Keel's voice echoed in the dark yet again. He stood before Seele's meeting table alone with a certain American.

"You have a lot of nerve to call me here, Senator Wingate. "

The man's holographic representation seem altered to show him as he appeared almost a decade ago, n. Not unlike the technology used by over the hill actors to squeeze out a few last films. His image stood near the dent the Frenchman's head had made in the table, and Keel wished America was a bit closer.

" This is Seele's meeting place is it not? I have business to discuss. "

The man's ego seemed to transcend space, making Keel imagine he could smell his breath.

I'll make you squirm before this is done, you arrogant bastard.

Keel's words boomed across the digital void between them.

" Seele no longer exists, Wingate! My supporters and I have returned to what we where before, the Trilateral Commission. You sir, have no business with the Commission. "

Keel summoned all his willpower to avoid spitting into the hologram as the Senator spoke again.

" You have a pilot in what will soon be MY country. This is simply a warning from Seele to have her behave herself. "

Keel made a mental note of just the tone of voice he used when he spoke the word " Seele "

As if this fool knew the meaning of the word.

Senator Wingate dropped all penitence, and spat out his words.

" I know you have the Russian, and I know he cost you a database full things thought impossible before the return of Dr Ikari. This is a friendly reminder that you left Seele behind but the throne of souls remains. Dislike that if you want, but you will respect it! "

The older man finally snapped.

" You impudent bastard! "

The Senator's hologram faded as he made a final statement.

" If the Sea of Dirac around Area 51 isn't broken, or if I even suspect that you might implode it intentionally to destroy the REAL S2 engines we have there I will come down on you. "

Senator Wingate's image faded, and the implant in his eyes told him he was really gone, and only one other was present.

" He'll start a war just to prove he's better then you are, Keel. "

He didn't turn, didn't look up, he knew the voice was being beamed directly into ears by one of his many implants.

" I can't stop him from doing that, but you can, Mr President ."

The casual tone in the man's voice made Keel wonder if he'd made his mind up already. That it came down to this, the future hinging on a man he hasn't shared a room with in twenty years trusting him with fate of humanity.

" That's dirty pool, old man. I'm a lame duck these days. Nothing to do but keep house until the election. "

Keel's footsteps echoed in the empty meeting place as he tried to remember the last time they talked when it wasn't about work. It was that concert maybe.

" Planning to retire and let the world burn. "

Keel smiled as his old friends voice showed a hint of anger.

" That's dirty pool you old bastard. "

Keel grasped at straws, trying to convince him.

" Eisenhower spoke out against the military industrial complex before leaving office, and even then said he didn't leave things in the best of hands. We control world now Jonathan, and once he was gone no one could stop us. "

A full minute of dead silence followed before he spoke again.

" Are you saying we shouldn't be running things? "

" I'm saying you can't pack up your desk and say everything will work itself out, because it won't. Unless your going to tell me you don't know what they are MASS cloning at Groom lake. "

Keel imagined the President's face as he replied for a final time. It looked tired and eager to finally put down the sword and rest. Keel wondered if he already had.

" Dear God, that's where he's getting the S2 organs of that quality. He's really mass cloning that Angel for spare parts. . . . "

Keel spoke not knowing if the link was cut off or not.

" Someone has to stop him Jonathan, and I can't. "

Shinji rechecked the timer on the stove for the fifth time in the last five minutes. Much to his dismay time wasn't going any faster. He rechecked his list of things he could make with what was in the fridge, noting the revisions after he dropped a few things in his hurry, and, much to Misato's amusement, revisions for spending time making the list. Misato again tried to calm him down.

" Shinji, your mother's not due for another few minutes. "

The boy turned, speaking sharply and quickly.

" I need to get this done ! Wait can she eat meat? All of this might make her sick! "

Misato regretted not getting out of work earlier, but the show Shinji was putting on in front of the stove made her smile. It was enough to make her feel guilty.

" Shinji vegetarians only get sick if they haven eaten ANYTHING with meat in it in any way for a long time. "

The boy continued to labor around the kitchen shacking as he went, until Misato stepped behind him. Wrapping her arms around him she could feel him trembling.

" It's alright, I'm going to be here the entire time, and Kaji will be home in a hour or two. "

Shinji responded sheepishly.

" Why didn't you tell me? "

The pot finally boiled as Misato answered in a motherly tone of voice.

" You need to face this, Shinji, one way or the other. It's been long enough since she's been back. No more running from it."

The boy almost whimpered.

" Couldn't you wait until Asuka was back?"

Shinji ignored the stove as she gave an answer he already knew.

" Asuka has plenty of reason to be jealous of you Shinji, but this is something she can never have. "

The boy's heart beat slowed, until the doorbell rang. Misato let go and he went back to making dinner.
Shinji saw her walking toward the door, and he muttered under his breath.

" I mustn't run away."

Yui stood at the door, and counted the heart beats since she rang the bell.

It's so unlike me to be this way, afraid to meet with or talk with anyone. This is Shinji. . . I never though I'd be scared of him. . .

The door opened as her heart skipped a beat. She wanted to see him their smiling, glad to see her at last. She was disappointed, as Misato opened the door.

" Hi ummm Doctor ! Come on in! "

Walking into the apartment she couldn't help but stare at this violet haired women.

I still don't know what to think about you Misato Katsuragi.

" How's Shinji doing with Asuka over seas? "

" Worried. How long till she's at the Dirac Sea? "

" By morning our time, nothing to do but wait, and hope the Chairman can get her a safe place to rest."

The quick exchange of shop talk did wonders to calm her nerves. After a few long heart beats, Shinji came into view. Yui kept trying to see the boy she left behind in the teenager she was not faced with.

Shinji was wearing a white novelty apron with " Kiss The Cook " written across the front. His face wore a forced smile, and he spoke a nervous tone in his voice.

" H-hello M-mother. . . "

It reminded her of Gendo in a way.

" Hello Shinji. "

Rei drifted in the LCL, the one sanctuary she's ever known in her life. Her thoughts dwelling on changes wrought by dead souls returning from the grave. Her own life bleak though it was, was simple to understand before the dead walked. Was dead even the word to describe them? Regardless the changes left in the wake of Kyoko Zeppelin Soryu, and the continuing wake of Yui Ikari had altered he life beyond what she'd though passable.

The Commander is gone. . .and Ikari does not look at me the same as he once did.

Once she wanted nothing more then a kind glance from one or the other, now they both seemed lost to her. The father in a NERV mental ward under suicide watch, and the son shunning her for arms of Second Child. Her heart beat spiked and she imagined the LCL boiling from her rage.

She is selfish, and arrogant ! He once looked at me the way he looks at the Second. . .now all he sees is Dr. Ikari's face.

The warm liquid circulated around her as the miles of circuitry, and cabling echoed her thoughts to what ever section of the MAGI was responsible for their storage. Her own memories from before her " death" had been faded by time, and she pondered the details of resurrection. Do you remember love, rage or sadness? It was so faint now like someone else's life. Was she happy before? Then when she could not care for her self the Commander cared for her, was he kind, or loving ?

Something jarred her from her thoughts. Reluctantly she opened her eyes to see Maya knocking on the tube. One thing she WAS sure of was no one ever used to knock on her tube.

The technician pantomimed for her to move to the exit hatch at the top of the cylinder, and she rolled her eyes as she swam. This was HER place and having anyone disturb her here was unsettling to say the least.

Reaching the top, Rei immediately noticed the temperature difference as she pulled herself free. Sitting there for a long minute dripping LCL, she shivered, not noticing Maya looking on with half smile.

" You didn't even think of bringing a towel, did you?"

Rei shot Maya what passes for an angry look when you're soaking wet and freezing. Maya tossed her a bathrobe and a pair of oversize slippers that looked like bear feet. If the older woman wanted to provoke a reaction out of her with the slippers it was working.

" These look foolish . . "

" Well it's just until we get you to the locker room. "

The alien feeling of having someone else here besides the Commander or Doctor Akagi was overwhelming . Had this woman ever even spoken to her before today? Before Rei's world was lonely, filled only with a few people that didn't care for her or, in the Commander's case, she knew would one day let her fade into nothing when her usefulness was at an end. Now she found herself walking in the dark with this woman she didn't know.

It seemed an odd place for a conversation. These deepest halls of NERV, endless catacombs of metal, and shadows. Footsteps echoing in the dark, as a girl not entirely human tries to find her place in an unkind world.

She for once spoke in a raised voice and not a whisper.

" Why do you even care? "

Yui and Misato watched Shinji scurry around the kitchen for ten minutes straight before Misato broke the silence.

" So, do you think he remembers the food's already on the table? "

Yui for the first time reminded Misato of Rei, with that lonely look in her eyes. It was getting easier to distinguish the Yui from Rei just by body language. Now, though, the sadness made them harder to tell apart.

" It's not you, really. Getting Shinji out of his shell is . . a part time job. "

Yui looked on with red eyes, unused to being on the outside looking in. Misato, without blinking, reached out her left arm, grabbing the boy as he buzzed past. Shinji objected weakly.

" I forgot the garnish. "

The dark haired woman snapped back.

" Good, it's against me religion, now sit down! "

Shinji half believing her did a double take.

" What religion ? "

Misato smacked her forehead in frustration.

" I'm a scienctologist. "

Misato imagined she could see gears spinning boy's mind. Normally she'd love the chance to make him blow a gasket but this wasn't the time.

" R-really? "

" You're right -- I quite. Now sit down."

Yui looked on as her son's apprehension gave way to laughter. She pondered the odd moment.

I love to hear him laugh, but I hate it that she's the one making him. What does that say about me?

Misato's cell phone sprang to life with the ear splitting sound of decade old J-pop that made Yui and Shinji both look at her with raised eyebrows. She grinned wide before speaking

" Umm, that's Kaji, I'll be right back. "

They were left alone at the table to an uncomfortable silence.

After about a minute of eating without a word, Shinji tried to break the ice.

" So any word from Asuka ? "

" No not in the last few hours. . . miss having your girl friend around? "

He blushed just a bit, and Yui's worries about his living arrangements where confirmed. She took a moment to study his face, and seeing Gendo the way she remembered him. A bit of shell around a good heart. The kind of shell that grows from too much time alone.

" Yea . . kind of . . umm to quiet around here without her I guess. "

Yui couldn't help but smile despite her feeling about their living arrangements.

" So, you do most of the cooking ? "

" I used to, Asuka and Kaji trade off the rest of the time. Misato, well, she tried to learn, but she cut
herself and bleed on a roast, and we had to throw it out. It made her feel bad."

Yui acted without thinking, reaching out to touch Shinji's hand across the table.

" She matters a lot to you, Misato, I mean. "

As if being touch by a hot coal, Shinji's hand recoiled, and Yui's face contorted with rejection. In an instant, all her patience and resolve began to crumble. Yui stood abruptly, and spoke in flat emotionless tone that would make Rei cringe.

" You are my son, and I love you, but I can't keep doing this. "

She turned slowly, as if in agony, away from Shinji and towards the door. Shinji watched her leave, and felt something give way inside.

" M-mother! Mother wait! "

Shinji's chair hit the floor as he moved after her.

Sitting on the bathroom floor, holding her cell and staring at the paused alarm, Misato fumbled for a pack of cigarettes . Without being able to hear the next room, she knew a damn was breaking, and good or bad right or wrong she had set the charges.