Chapter 1

Shinji Ikari lay alone in his room. Misato knocked on his door a couple of times, trying to talk to him. Shinji ignored her. He didn't want to see anyone right now. His heart was troubled.

He had just witnessed Rei Ayanami, a blue-haired girl who he was trying to get to know, self-destruct her Evangelion to destroy the Sixteenth Angel. There was no evidence found that confirmed her survival. Shinji's own heart felt like it had detonated with her Eva, because she had done it to save him. Now, he felt dead inside.

Misato came into his room and sat down on the edge of the bed. She said something that Shinji didn't hear. All he felt was her hand touch his.

"Don't touch me!" Shinji shouted, turning away, "Misato-san, just…stay away from me!"

How could she understand? Shinji thought, anguished, How can anyone understand how I felt about Rei? I loved her. At least…I think I did…

Shinji heard the phone ring. Misato answered it. Suddenly, she was shouting Shinji's name.

"We have to get to the hospital, NOW!" Misato shouted.

Misato drove like a maniac all the way to NERV's private hospital. Shinji raced down the corridor to where he saw someone standing, looking out the windows.

"Rei!" Shinji shouted.

The blue-haired girl turned her head. She looked silently at Shinji. Shinji came skidding to a stop and stood next to her.

"Oh, my god," Shinji said happily, "I-I can't believe you're alive! This is…incredible!"

A woman came walking down the corridor. It was Ritsuko.

"Rei," she said coldly, "why did you wander off? Return to your room at once."

"Yes, ma'am," Rei said obediently.

How dare you? Shinji thought angrily, She has every right to walk around and feel the sunlight. How dare you treat her like this? I'll make you pay.

Shinji's own thoughts surprised him. He hadn't ever felt any animosity towards Ritsuko before this point. Now, suddenly, something about her just pissed him off.

The next day, Shinji returned to the hospital and found Rei in her room again. This time, however, she was not alone in the room. Shinji's father was there as well.

"Why are you here?" Gendo demanded coldly.

"I'm here to visit Rei," Shinji responded.

"Leave," Gendo ordered, "she's checking out today."

"I…" Shinji stammered. He didn't know why he was always so intimidated by his father. Shinji hated his father, yet he was scared to death of him. Something was different this time, though. Shinji wasn't as afraid. He was concerned for Rei, and that concern overrided every other impulse in his brain, including his irrational fear of his father.

"I won't leave her," Shinji said forcefully.

"What did you say?" Gendo demanded.

"Father…I said I won't leave Rei's side ever again!"

"You insolent little--!"

"Shut up, father!" Shinji shouted, "I'm not afraid of you anymore! What I'm doing, I'm doing for her, for Rei!"

"I've had enough," Gendo said angrily, "Don't bother returning to headquarters. You will be arrested on sight."

"Just try and stop me," Shinji retorted.

"I could have you shot," Gendo growled.

"You could try," Shinji said, glaring at his father.

Gendo swooped out of the room and down the hall. Shinji stared angrily after him for a few moments, then turned back to face Rei. She was sitting up in bed, staring inquisitively at Shinji.

"Why…did you do that?" she asked quietly.

"Do what?" Shinji asked, "Stand up to my father? Don't you see I had to? I've been cowering at the sight of him for too damned long. I'm sick of it. He forced me to almost kill Toji, and then he stands by and lets you blow yourself up! And thenthen he only comes to visit you after you've been in the hospital for a day! He doesn't care about anyone but himself! I hate him!"

"Why did you stand against your father for my sake?" Rei asked, "I am not worth that kind of trouble."

"Yes, you are, Rei," Shinji said earnestly, "You sacrificed your Eva to save me. I can never thank you enough for what you did. I…"

Shinji faltered. Did he have the strength to tell Rei how he felt?