**

I was alone. There was no one. It had been a week since I had emerged, but I was still alone.

Mother.

Mother, you lied to me! I raged for the billionth time, You told me they could return! But where the hell are they? Asuka...Misato...Ayanami...ALL GONE!

I looked up; I was standing in frond of an erect pole of wood with a cross of bone nailed to the center. The sight made me choke. Tears welled in my eyes again.

"I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away. I mustn't...DAMMIT! It's all my fault. I CHOSE this. I made it this way. Even Instrumentality would have been better..."

It hurt. The pain was everywhere. The world was filled with nothing but pain and loneliness. I had finally found a place to belong, but it had all been taken away. I averted my eyes from Misato's grave, and my gaze fell upon the loathsome...thing in the distance. A pale reminder of Ayanami, like a statue in her likeness, split down the middle. The pain grew. I looked down, staring at the desolate ground.

"I can't take it anymore..."

I looked up, and gazed intently at the blood-red sea of LCL. I had learned long ago that this LCL didn't have the same properties as the LCL I remembered. Case in point: It wouldn't oxygenate my blood.

Perfectly calm, I walked to the shore of the sea. I waded out to where the water level dropped off, and I began to swim. The LCL was thick, and difficult to swim in. When I could no longer see the bottom, I stopped. I looked up. The sun hadn't been visible since Third Impact, but the moon shone brightly in the sky; the blood-red stain on its face shone brightest of all. I took a deep breath.

"Goodbye...Mother. I'm sorry."

And I plunged into the sea.

I swum down as far as I could. When I became tired, I floated peacefully. My memories flashed before me, but I felt no pain. My vision began to blur, but I felt warm. I smiled, and closed my eyes. I was at peace. I leaned back and rested. As the darkness began to envelop me, I felt a familiar touch on my shoulder.

"Ikari...kun?"

"Aya..."

The darkness turned to light, and I knew no more.