Disclaimer: Neon Genesis Evangelion is the creation of Anno and Gainax. I don't own it, make no claims to it, and am making no profit from the fan fiction. No infringement of copyright is intended. In other words, please don't sue.
An unfamiliar ceiling was the first thing Hikari Horaki saw when her eyes fluttered open. Blinking, she looked around and saw that she was in a hospital room. Quickly, Hikari jumped out of bed and headed for the window, dimly noting that while she felt stiff, her body was no longer in pain like it had been when she'd passed out.
The window showed the city of Tokyo-3 outside, not the Geofront like she'd expected. In the distance, Hikari could see a large number of cranes and other construction equipment working busily to patch up the huge hole that the N2 mine had blown into the Geofront's roof.
Okay, I'm not in NERV Medical, she thought. I wonder how I got here. At least I got a good night's sleep. Even waking up wasn't so…
Her eyes widened suddenly as Hikari realized that she couldn't sense Lilith. The Second Angel had been emitting a call that was impossible for her to tell apart from Adam's until she'd been face to face with Lilith. Whether or not the Second Angel had been doing such in an attempt to lead Adam's children to their doom or just gave off such a call by her nature, Hikari had no clue. However, she knew she should have been able to hear it, should have woken up and had to resist the call as she'd been doing for months now.
Did they destroy Lilith while I was asleep? Hikari wondered. Or did…?
A truly terrible thought occurred to her then. What if NERV had somehow stripped her of her Angelic side while she'd been out? It would make sense; they didn't need her help to destroy the Angels anymore, and they probably wouldn't want someone as powerful as Spirit running around loose.
Hikari had been terrified when the wings had first emerged from her back, but now the idea that they never would again sent ice through her.
I have wings! She thought.
The feathery appendages burst from her back as faithfully as they always had, mercifully not destroying the green hospital gown she was wearing in the process. She breathed a sigh of relief.
I don't have wings, she thought, and transformed back to her human form.
With that crisis over with, Hikari walked back over to her bed and pushed the button to call the nurse, deciding that it was time to find out what had been going on while she'd been unconscious.
The door hissed slightly as it slid open and allowed Misato access to the command center. "Status report?" she asked calmly.
"The repairs to Unit Three were successful, despite the damage done to it having exceeded the Henflick limit," Maya said. "Cryo-freezing is scheduled to commence within the hour."
"Good," Misato said.
Things had been rather…hectic in the aftermath of what Misato fervently hoped was the final battle of Tokyo-3. Once the news of the incredibly brutal attack had come out, it had sparked a scandal which had forced the Prime Minister and the Secretary of the Interior to resign in disgrace. The UN was covering up some of what had happened in the name of preventing a panic. Misato thought it was foolish, but at the end of the day, she was just glad that she and her charges had emerged from the fires of war alive.
The members of the Human Instrumentality Committee had all seemingly vanished from the face of the Earth, save Chairman Keel, whose cybernetic implants had finally failed him. He had been found dead in his home, clutching a briefcase filled with small, unmarked bills. A massive manhunt had been launched to find the remaining members and bring them to justice.
The UN, after a period of collective shock at how close the world had come to ending, had ordered Tokyo-2 to restore NERV's legal protection, but had also demanded NERV put the remaining EVA Units into indefinite cryo-stasis. Misato had no objections to that order.
"I hear that the politicians in the UN General Assembly are already developing pretty euphemisms for our job now that the war with the Angels is over," Aoba spoke up. "They're calling us the 'Custodians of Evangelion' or something like that."
"NERV has no function anymore, besides guarding the Second Angel and keeping it a secret," Makoto said. "We're going to become a very do-nothing organization it seems, and they need to justify our continued funding."
"Typical politicians," Misato said, rolling her eyes. "Without having to maintain the EVA's or fight battles, NERV will only need a fraction of the money it did before, but they still have to make excuses as to why they're keeping us around."
Makoto shrugged. "Well, I'm sure it must seem strange to the public, especially since all the other branches are being disbanded," he said. "I'm just glad I won't be out of a job."
The door hissed open again, and Ritsuko Akagi entered the command center. Misato kept her face blank at the faux blonde entered, having mixed feeling for her former friend.
On the one hand, Ritsuko had aided and abetted Commander Ikari's terrible plots. Indeed, she was only still a free woman because she'd gleefully sung like a canary to the authorities about Gendo and SEELE's scenarios, and because she was the world's leading computer scientist.
On the other hand, though, Misato couldn't help but feel pity for Ritsuko as she learned, one piece of information at a time, how badly she'd been used and abused by Gendo. Misato doubted that they'd ever be friends again, but she could live with having the woman around.
"Have you heard the news?" Ritsuko asked, waving around a newspaper.
"You'll have to be more specific than that, Ritsuko," Misato said. "A lot has happened in very short period of time."
"Of course," Ritsuko said, looking slightly sheepish. "I meant the news from The Hague. A lot of law experts have been analyzing Ikari's case. Seems that if he's lucky, he'll only get fifty life sentences in which to stew over the fact that a teenage girl in a miniskirt wrecked all his plans."
Misato couldn't help but smirk. "You're really very pleased with yourself now about dumping that LCL into the lake, aren't you?"
"Best mistake I ever made," Ritsuko agreed. "It said in the paper that if they find Ikari guilty—which is pretty much a given—they're going to keep him in super maximum security. Twenty-three hours a day alone in a small, windowless room."
"Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy," Misato commented. "It's just a pity they don't execute people in The Hague."
"Execution might be more merciful," Ritsuko commented.
Before she could make a reply, Ritsuko's cell phone went off and she answered, hanging up after only a brief conversation.
"What's up?" Misato asked when the call was finished.
"Our special patient in Tokyo-3 Memorial Hospital is awake," Ritsuko said.
Hikari paced about her small hospital room in agitation, wondering what the heck was going on. The nurses had refused to tell her anything, except that someone would be along soon to explain everything to her. The pair of security guards waiting outside her door weren't exactly doing anything for her composure, either.
Of course, they couldn't hold if she didn't want to remain where she was, but Hikari wasn't keen on the idea of flying out the window or fighting her way out in her hospital gown.
The door suddenly opened and Hikari immediately stopped pacing and looked up. "Dr. Akagi?" she asked, pulling the memory of the faux blonde's name out of her memory with some effort.
The scientist nodded. "Yes, that's me," she confirmed. "And you're Hikari Horaki. You know, I must say that it was rather clever on your part to hide right under NERV's nose, befriending the pilots like that."
That wasn't the reason she'd made friends with the EVA pilots, but Hikari didn't see the point in telling Akagi as much. "Uh, thank you," she said. "How long have I been out?"
"Oh, about four days," Akagi answered. "Sorry about keeping you here and not in NERV Medical, but the base is crawling with UN inspectors, and we didn't want them to find you."
Hikari's eyes widened. "Four…days? I haven't been able to sleep for more than four hours at a time ever since I first, uh, changed."
"Interesting," Akagi said, making a note on a clipboard she was carrying. "I suspect you were out so long because your S2 organ was slightly damaged, either from overuse or trauma sustained in the battle. After you passed out, it apparently dedicated all its energy toward repairing itself, and—"
"Wait, wait…S2 organ?" Hikari asked.
Ritsuko spent next several minutes lecturing Hikari about the changes to her anatomy that absorbing Angelic DNA had caused. Hikari listened raptly, feeling particularly shocked to discover that Spirit had been born from an act of illegal chemical dumping ordered by Akagi herself.
"Any questions?" Akagi asked when she had finished.
"Why can't I sense Lilith?" Hikari asked. "I've been able to ever since the Thirteenth Angel, but since I woke up, I haven't felt a thing."
"Ah," Ritsuko said, looking pleased that Hikari had asked. "I'm responsible for that. I was able to use Ikari's notes to flush the part of the Thirteenth Angel in you out of your system."
Ritsuko nodded. "As I'm sure you know, the Rei clone possessed DNA from the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Twelfth Angels, as well as the same Adam DNA you have. Gendo attempted to add DNA from the Thirteenth Angel as well, but it never worked as he intended, due to the parasitic nature of that Angel. Rather than just absorbing the DNA, a small amount of the viscous substance that composed the Angel formed inside her body. Rei III started reporting a near overwhelming urge to become one with Adam, and at that point, Ikari had no choice but to figure out how to remove the Thirteenth Angel matter in Rei III."
"I see," Hikari said. "So…"
"You won't be taking control of the base's defenses again, but unless you head down to the Geofront, you won't have to deal with your new instincts blaring at you to become one with Lilith," Ritsuko summarized.
"Thank you," Hikari said. "So, what's going to happen now?"
"Well, NERV can't really allow a being as powerful as you to just run around unrestrained," Ritsuko said. "There was some talk about removing your S2 organ, which would render you unable to use any of your powers…"
Hikari's eyes widened.
"However, we suspect that your body's grown so used to it that its removal would slowly kill you. Obviously, that's not an option," Ritsuko said with a wry smile. "I think Misato's considering putting you on the NERV payroll."
Hikari blinked. "Really?"
Akagi nodded. "Yes. From what I understand, you'll essentially be drawing a pay check to not destroy Tokyo-3."
"I…I think I can do that," Hikari said, still a little stunned at the idea of technically becoming a member of NERV in the near future. "Can I go home now?"
"Not yet," Ritsuko said. "We're going to be keeping you here a few days for observation, just to be on the safe side. We know so little about true nephilim anatomy, despite Ikari's notes."
"But I feel fine," Hikari protested.
"Good for you," Akagi replied.
Hikari sighed and sat down on her bed as Akagi left.
Andrew Loeffel hummed quietly to himself as he pushed a small cart down the hallways of the super maximum security area of the prison, more to ward off the creepy silence of the place than anything else. Very few people were held in super maximum security, and those prisoners tended to be unusually quiet.
He reached one of the few occupied cells and knocked on the armored door before slipping a tray of food through a slot at the bottom of it. "Dinner time, Kozo," he said in halting Japanese.
The old man's face appeared at the small, barred window of his cell. "Arigato, Andrew-kun."
Loeffel smiled. Despite knowing what Fuyutski had been a party to, he couldn't help but like the man. The old gentlemen just reminded him of too many of his former teachers. Besides, he got the impression that the former Vice Commander was actually relieved that the horrible plans for Instrumentally had failed.
Fuyutski pushed out the empty tray from lunch, which Loeffel took and put on his cart. "Would you like me to bring the library cart by again tomorrow?" he asked.
"No, thank you," Fuyutski replied. "I don't expect to be finished with the book I'm reading now until the day after tomorrow at the earliest."
Loeffel nodded. "Very well. Good evening, Kozo."
"Good night, Andrew."
Loeffel then proceeded further down the hall, to the other prisoner he had to feed. He banged on the door and then slid the tray of food under it. "Dinner time, Ikari," he announced in much more gruff tone than he used with Fuyutski.
Gendo Ikari responded with a harsh burst of Japanese that came out too quickly for Loeffel to translate. He was fairly certain that the prisoner was cursing, however. With a sigh, Loeffel peered into the window in Gendo's cell door.
The walls had long since been covered in badly drawn pictures of winged girls, most of whom were being killed in rather grisly ways. The sight always left Loeffel amused and exasperated at the same time. It exasperated him because he suspected that Ikari was trying to get off with an insanity plea of some kind, not that he had any chance in succeeding. The amusement stemmed from the fact that Gendo Ikari had arguably been the most powerful man in the world once, and was now reduced to venting his impotent rage by doodling on his cell walls.
Gendo said something to his jailer, but again it was spoken too quickly for Loeffel to translate.
"Speak more slowly," Loeffel ordered. "I didn't catch any of that."
"I don't want food," Gendo said, waving around the stump of his right arm hand before realizing there was no fist there and switching to his left. "I want the treatment for—!"
The bearded man doubled over in pain before he could finished, and Loeffel almost felt sorry for him. Truly, Gendo Ikari was in a terrible state; in addition to the frequent and intense pain he had to deal with, the man often woke up screaming and was prone to violent shaking and cold sweats. None of the doctors they had on hand had any clue as to what his condition was, but Gendo claimed that it was an effect of having been joined with and then separated from the First Angel.
He also claimed that he had developed a cure for his condition, and that NERV Central possessed it.
"We've contacted NERV. I told you this already," Loeffel said. "The head of Technical Division One said she didn't have any idea what you were talking about."
"Akagi is lying!" Gendo barked.
Probably, but if you expect anyone to take one step out of their way to prove it and get you this cure, you are shit out of luck, Loeffel thought.
"Good evening, Ikari," Loeffel said, walking off, leaving Gendo to draw scenes of a woman in a lab coat getting shot on his cell walls.
Hikari expected her stay in Tokyo-3 Memorial Hospital to be boring in the extreme. Her expectations were not met, thanks to a number of rather interesting visits she had, the first of which was no surprise but still yielded some interesting facts.
"Nee-chan!" Nozomi exclaimed as she burst into the room, Kodama following behind her.
Hikari turned off the TV and got out of bed and to her feet just in time for Nozomi to crash into her. "Woah, Nozomi-chan, what…?" she trailed off as she realized that Nozomi was crying into her gown. "What's wrong?"
"She's just relieved," Kodama said, setting a small suitcase down next to Hikari's bed. "You gave us both quite a scare when you never came back to the shelter. We thought we'd lost you for a while there."
"I'm sorry," Hikari said. "I didn't mean to worry you."
Nozomi giggled through her tears, apparently starting to regain her composure. "You saved the whole world, nee-chan. You don't have anything to apologize for," she said, then grinned rather wickedly. "Though Dad might think differently…"
Hikari's eyes widened. "Dad knows?"
Kodama nodded. "Yes, NERV contacted him and told him about who you were after they checked you in here."
"Yeah, he was really mad when he found out!" Nozomi said, looking positively delighted at the idea of Hikari actually being in trouble for once.
Kodama lightly smacked Nozomi on the back on the head, and the youngest sister gave the eldest a scowl but didn't say anything.
"Was he really that angry?" Hikari asked, biting her lower lip.
"Well, yes, but we managed to calm him down eventually," Kodama said. "It took a lot of effort…"
"You owe us one by the way," Nozomi piped up, earning another light smack from Kodama.
"Dad was rather stubborn about the whole thing. He just didn't want to stop being angry at you for risking yourself like that, no matter how many times we tried to convince him you had to," Kodama said. "It was rather amazing, really."
Hikari suddenly had a flashback to Kodama all but shrieking "They tried to nuke you!" over and over again after the battle against the Seventh Angel and sweat dropped.
"I think he finally saw logic after the five hundredth time we reminded him that if you hadn't done what you did, the world would have ended, probably several times over," Kodama said. "That you also saved him from getting gunned down during the attack and making orphans of us helped, too. In any case, he promised not to confront you about this until he'd calmed down, so don't feel hurt if he doesn't come to visit you soon."
Hikari nodded. "I see. Thanks for speaking to Dad for me."
"Welcome. Anyway, I brought you some stuff to make your stay here a little more bearable," Kodama said, gesturing toward the suitcase she'd brought. "Some of your clothes so you can get out of that hospital gown, and some books and stuff to keep you from dying of boredom."
Hikari frowned. "What about my homework?"
"No homework. The school got blown up!" Nozomi said, looking jubilant.
"I believe they said that it'll be rebuilt in time for next term," Kodama said, taking obvious pleasure in raining on Nozomi's parade.
"Hello, Rei, how are you?" Hikari asked cheerfully, both glad to see Rei and glad to have some company.
"I am well, thank you," Rei said with a small smile before she frowned pensively. "However, is it not appropriate for me to be asking you that, since you are the one in the hospital?"
Hikari smiled. "I'm doing fine," she said. "I'm just bored and wish I could get out of here."
Rei nodded. "I believe Dr. Akagi will approve your release soon, if your condition remains normal," she said.
"I hope so," Hikari said fervently. "So, what's been going on with you?"
Rei smiled softly. "Major Katsuragi is currently undergoing the process of becoming my new guardian, now that Commander Ikari is incarcerated," she said. "Also, Asuka and I are friends again."
Hikari blinked. "Really?"
"Yes, after discovering that you are Spirit—"
"Woah, what?" Hikari interrupted. "Now Asuka knows, too?"
Rei nodded. "Yes. Major Katsuragi found out that I knew and then mistakenly assumed that you had told Shinji and Asuka as well. Please, do not think ill of her. She was exhausted from working for well over twenty-four hours to return order to the base and the city when she made this mistake."
"So they both know?" Hikari asked, rubbing her temples as she wondered what would be said the next time she and Asuka met.
"Yes," Rei said. "Much of Asuka's hostility toward me stemmed from her belief that I had sided with someone I didn't really even know over her. After realizing that this was not the case, she came and apologized to me for how she treated me, then asked if we could be friends again."
"Asuka apologized to you?" Hikari asked skeptically.
Rei nodded, her tiny smile widening into a small smirk. "Saying the words 'gomen nasai' appeared to bring her physical pain."
Hikari couldn't help but laugh at that, finding it very easy to believe. She then sobered as she remembered something. "Rei…I'm sorry about killing your, uh, sister. She didn't leave me much choice, but still…"
"I understand," Rei said. "You did as you had to."
"I didn't hate her," Hikari suddenly blurted out, not sure what motivated her to say that.
"Nor did I," Rei said. "I was that blindly loyal to Commander Ikari once, so I cannot hate her. However, I'm not that way anymore, thanks largely in part to you."
Hikari smiled, feeling relieved that Rei didn't resent her for killing the clone. She supposed it had been a foolish fear; Rei had been the one who told her to destroy Rei III, after all. Still, she'd felt anxious about it until now.
Silence fell for a few moments, neither of them quite sure what to say next. At last, Rei spoke up. "I will leave now," she said. "I will see you when you are released. Good-bye."
"Bye, Rei," Hikari said.
I am really going to have to figure out how to teach that girl to gossip one day, Hikari mused as Rei left.
The First Child was gone for no more than twenty seconds when there was a knock at Hikari's door.
"Come in," Hikari said, expecting that Rei was coming back for some reason.
The door opened and Shinji entered, looking slightly nervous. "Hello, Hikari," he said.
"Shinji," she said, quickly masking her surprise. "It's good to see you. Are you all right? You weren't hurt during the attack, were you?"
"No, I'm fine," Shinji said. "The whole thing was pretty insane, though. For a while I thought that Rei had been killed, and then I find out that my father was trying to start Third Impact."
Hikari winced. She sometimes forgot that Gendo Ikari was Shinji's father, not just the guy who was trying to repay her for her help by attacking her. "I'm sorry about that."
Shinji shook his head. "It's okay. I stopped expecting anything from him a long time ago."
Hikari nodded and an uncomfortable silence descended.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Shinji at last scraped up the nerve to ask. "That you were Spirit, I mean. I never would have told my father or anyone about it."
"Um, well, I considered it, but, well, you were so bad at keeping NERV's secrets…" Hikari trailed off, looking sheepish.
Shinji blinked, and, to Hikari's surprise, he laughed. She had been expecting him to look stung.
"After I gave away my status as an EVA pilot the first time someone asked, I guess I can't blame you," he said. "In fact, I might not have trusted me with a secret like that, either."
Hikari let out a small sigh of relief. "I'm glad you understand."
He nodded. "Anyway, I wanted to thank you for all the help you gave us during the war," Shinji said. "I don't know how a lot of the battles would have gone without your help, and I don't really want to know."
Hikari smiled. "You're welcome."
Shinji smiled. "By the way, have you ever wanted to see Europe?"
Hikari blinked. "Huh?"
Asuka took a deep breath before she barged into Hikari's hospital room, belatedly realizing that she hadn't knocked first. Fortunately, she didn't walk in on Hikari changing or anything embarrassing like that. The class rep was sitting on her bed, reading a paperback book.
"Asuka," Hikari greeted, her tone uncertain as she put down her book and stood up.
"Hello, Hikari," Asuka said.
The Second Child didn't immediately say anything, instead pacing around the room in agitation. Hikari actually took this as a good sign. If Asuka intended to start yelling at her and end their friendship, she would have come in swinging.
"Why did you do it?" Asuka asked at last.
"Because I wanted to help you, even if you didn't want my help," Hikari replied. "I was never trying to make you feel angry or inadequate, I swear I wasn't. I was just trying to help my friends."
Asuka just continued to pace around the room.
"Are you angry at me?" Hikari asked at last.
"No. I…I tried to be," Asuka confessed. "I shouldn't have, but I couldn't seem to help it. But I can't fool myself into thinking that I never needed your help. Against the Fifteenth and the Sixteenth…as bad as those battles were for me, I know they would've been worse if not for you. Never mind all the other fights you helped in."
Admitting all this gave Asuka a rather sour look, as if she'd been sucking on a lemon. Hikari wondered if this was how she'd appeared while apologizing to Rei.
The Second Child sighed and faced the window. "It actually makes it better, though," she commented, facing the window. "It's a lot easier for me to accept help from my friend, rather than some random girl who was just looking for glory."
Hikari smiled, easily able to see the hidden message in the redhead's words. "I'm glad we're still friends, Asuka."
Asuka turned toward her a smiled back. "I'd ask you why you never told me, but I guess that one's pretty obvious, huh?"
"Yeah," Hikari agreed with a chuckle. "So, want to head to the mall when they finally let me out of here?"
Asuka's smile suddenly faded. "I can't," she said. "I'm going back to Germany tomorrow."
Asuka nodded. "My father and step-mother demanded I return. They want to make me go to therapy now that the war's finished."
The look of disgust on Asuka's face made it clear what she thought about going to therapy. Hikari decided to leave it unsaid that she thought Asuka could probably use it, after what the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Angels had put her through.
"So this is good-bye, then?" Hikari asked.
"Nah, not forever, anyway," Asuka said. "I'll be back."
Asuka smiled. "I'll make my way back here eventually. Nothing can stop Asuka Langley Soryu when she puts her mind to something," she said. "Misato's already said she'd be willing to take me in again if I can get my parents to allow it."
"I'll be glad to see you come back, of course, but why would you rather live here?" Hikari asked, confused.
"I never got along very well with my parents," Asuka said, "and Germany never really felt like home to me, at least not since my real mother died. Misato's place does, Gott help me. Even living with baka Shinji feels like home."
Hikari smirked. "Careful, Asuka. Rei likes him, too, you know. You'd better make your way back here quickly, or she'll beat you to it."
Asuka scowled darkly but didn't deny anything. "Anyway, I'll be going now," she said. "I'm leaving tomorrow morning, so this is probably the last time we'll see each other for a while."
The two girls embraced, saying their good-byes.
Hikari's last caller was the one she'd wanted and feared seeing the most, even more so than Asuka. Toji Suzuhara arrived to visit her on the afternoon of the day Asuka left for her homeland.
"Oh, Toji, hi," she said nervously as she gestured for him to come inside her room.
The Fourth Child didn't say anything for a long moment, just looking at her nervously while he tried to reconcile the fact that the girl in front of him and Spirit were one and the same. It just seemed so unbelievable, but he'd seen the truth himself down in the EVA graveyard.
Hikari bit her lip as the silence dragged on, wondering what he was thinking about. Was he angry with her for keeping her secret from him? Did he think she'd just been playing with his emotions when she flirted with him as Spirit? And, most importantly, did he like Spirit but not Hikari?
"Toji?" she asked, finally unable to stand the silence any longer.
He started, realizing that he'd just been standing there like an idiot. "Was it really you? The whole time?" he blurted out, then felt like smacking himself for asking such a dumb question.
Hikari looked away. "Yes, Spirit was always me," she said. "But…"
She didn't want to tell him; she was afraid that he'd lose interest in her when she did, but there was no denying it.
"But?" Toji prompted.
"I like you," Hikari forced out, the warmth in her cheeks being replaced by blazing heat, "and I know you liked Spirit, too. But I can't be her around you, not anymore. I was only to act that bold around you because you didn't know who I really was. Now that you know…"
"I…I see," Toji said.
Hikari eyes slid closed and she bowed her head, feeling empty and numb. I knew it.
"So, are you doing anything Saturday?" Toji asked. "Uh, assuming that they let you out of here by then, that is."
Hikari's head snapped up and she looked at him with wide eyes. "You mean…?"
Toji grinned sheepishly and rubbed the back of his neck. "I liked, uh, like you both," he said. "It's actually a big relief, that I don't have to choose. So…how about I come pick you up at seven on Saturday?"
Hikari smiled broadly, and Toji actually felt a little lightheaded by the sight. "It's a date."
"All right. Cool," he said, trying to act casual and not exactly succeeding. "I'll see you then, I guess."
"Toji?" Hikari spoke up before he could leave. "If you had had to pick between Hikari and Spirit, which one would you have chosen? Please, be honest."
He grinned. "Well, I had been thinking about asking you…uh, you Hikari, out for a while now. I probably would have, but I was afraid that Spirit would kick my ass if she found out."
Hikari laughed, then walked toward Toji, grabbed two handfuls of his shirt, and pulled him forward into a deep kiss. The jock's eyes widened to the size of saucers for a moment before he closed them and just enjoyed it, slowly putting his arms around her.
"See you on Saturday," Hikari said when they at last parted.
"Yeah, Saturday," Toji agreed, hoping she couldn't tell how woozy he felt at the moment.
The Fourth Child managed to make it out of her room and shut the door behind him before he started staggering around like a drunk man, which, from a certain perspective, he was. Toji felt that this was quite an accomplishment.
"Okay," he muttered to himself. "I can totally believe that they're the same person now."
One month later…
"Well, you're in a good mood," Kodama commented, watching as Hikari hummed a cheery tune to herself while she worked on dinner.
"She's just happy because she has a date with her boyfriend tomorrow," Nozomi said with a smirk.
"Be nice, Nozomi-chan," Hikari chided, her good mood still quite intact. "Do you want me to tease you when you get a boyfriend?"
Nozomi made a face at the very thought and the two older girls shared a knowing smirk.
"So, you two seem to be going out a lot lately," Kodama said to Hikari with a smile. "Getting along quite well with this boy, aren't you?"
Yes, Hikari thought with a grin.
"Well, we both just have a lot of free time on our hands, with the school still being a rebuilt and everything," Hikari said, not wanting to give Kodama any gratification for her prying.
"Right," Kodama grinned. "Which is why you're going on a European vacation with the boy soon."
"It's not just going to be the two of us!" Hikari protested. "All the other EVA pilots are going, too. We're even going to go to Germany first to get Asuka, and I think Kensuke is coming along, too. And, of course, Miss Katsuragi is coming to chaperone everything."
Hikari left it unsaid that, knowing Misato, she suspected that the woman was as likely to encourage inappropriate behavior as not. Her sisters didn't need to know that, however.
Kodama smirked. "As much as I'm sure one woman can keep an eye on six teenagers all at once—"
She was cut off as Hikari's cell phone rang, much to the relief of the middle Horaki girl. Hikari quickly took the phone out of her pocket and looked at the caller ID screen. It read "NERV Cmdr."
"Moshi moshi," Hikari said as she answered it.
"Hello, Hikari," Misato greeted. "Listen, our radars have detected a small force of tanks approaching Tokyo-3 from the west, and they aren't responding to any of our hails. We suspect that they're a mercenary group hired by one of the members of SEELE that's still at large and looking for revenge. We need the unanimous consent from the Security Council to unfreeze an EVA, which isn't going to happen. I need you to go and scare them off."
"Not a problem," Hikari assured her, pleased that she would be getting the chance to actually earn her absurd salary from NERV for once.
"What's up?" Kodama asked as Hikari ended the call.
"Duty calls," Hikari answered. "I need you to turn off the stove in a half hour from now and then turn off the oven in forty-five minutes, okay? I should be back in time for dinner."
With that, Hikari removed the apron she was wearing and then headed up to her room to change.
Kodama traded a glance with Nozomi. "Was it the pot I'm supposed to turn off in a half hour, or the fish?"
Nozomi just shrugged.
"There," Misato said as she hung up her cell phone. "She ought to be able to take care of those tanks no problem. SEELE should know better than to try and mess with us again."
"Commander, should I signal an evacuation and transform the city?" Makoto asked.
"Not yet," Misato said. "If the enemy gets within ten kilometers of the city limits, then go ahead, but I doubt they'll make it that far."
"It's a good thing Spirit's on our side," Maya commented. "Who knows where we'd be without her?"
"We'd be dead," Aoba said flatly, drawing a few snickers from the other technicians.
"You know," Ritsuko spoke up, "with Gendo's notes, we could theoretically transform the entire human species in the same manner that Spirit was transformed. Artificially continuing the evolution of mankind was the stated purpose of the Human Instrumentality Project, after all."
"That may be true, but I don't think humanity's ready for that kind of power yet," Misato said.
"Spirit was," Ritsuko pointed out.
"But there are others who wouldn't be. Gendo and SEELE prove that much," Misato said. "I don't think we should actively try and spread Angelic genes. Besides, that will probably happen on its own, unless you'd like to tell the girl who can destroy Angels without an EVA that she's not ever allowed to have children."
"Uh, no, I'll pass, thanks," Ritsuko said.
Misato nodded with a grin. "I thought you'd feel that way," she said. "Spirit's special, in more ways than one. I think we should let her remain that way, so we'll be keeping Gendo's notes a secret for a long, long time."
Back in the Horaki home, Hikari had just finished putting on her costume. She smiled as she opened her window, seeing no potential witnesses.
I have wings, she thought, just before Spirit soared off into the sky.
Author's Notes: And thus ends "Superwomen of Eva: Spirit." I hope nobody minds the rather sedate epilogue. There just wasn't much left to do besides hand out rewards and punishments accordingly and then send our heroine flying off into the sunset.
Anyway, though her own story may be over, you haven't seen the last of Spirit. A couple of other authors have asked me about using her in their own writings, and she'll be in "Heroes United!" of course. And before you ask, I don't know anything more about it than what I've read in orionpax09's author's notes.
Shinji's romantic future is left up in the air, but it's certain that he has one, at least. I wanted to leave it this way, both because it's not his story (I've turned into a broken record on this point, I know) and because I didn't want one of the ladies to have him in two SOE stories before "Heroes United!" is even begun. It just didn't seem fair.
Originally, I was going to have Lilith be destroyed at the end, but then orionpax09 began to portray her as a benevolent figure, so I decided it would be better if I left the Second Angel unscathed. I couldn't leave Hikari as she was, waking up in a cold sweat everyday, so I had Ritsuko undo what the Thirteenth Angel had done to her.
Anyway, one last thing before I conclude this very long author's rambling...er, note. A few of you have asked what plans I have for my next fic now that this is done. That depends, actually. You see, I've been wanting to do a remake of gunman's "Misato's Second Childhood" since before I started this story. I need his permission before I can post anything, and I sent him a few messages recently asking for it. However, I haven't gotten any response. I don't suppose any of you, my very wonderful readers, are in touch with him?
Konous the grey, you know, when I was writing the last chapter, I never even thought that anyone who was asking to see berserk Unit One would react to berserk Unit Two that way. I can understand where you're coming from, but yeah, it had to be Asuka and Unit Two that won that battle.
Orion, heh, I had that omake in mind ever since I made that comment. I'm glad I've given you ideas for Spirit in "Heroes United!" I kind of figured it might be helpful to have a way to power her up in that fic, since a lot of the more recent superwomen have been so powerful.
Thanks to all my readers and reviewers.
Toji no baka!
"Toji?" Hikari spoke up before he could leave. "If you had had to pick between Hikari and Spirit, which one would you have chosen? Please, be honest."
He grinned. "Well, I had been thinking about asking you…uh, you Hikari, out for a while now. I probably would have, but I was afraid that Spirit would kick my ass if she found out."
Hikari laughed, then walked toward Toji.
He spoke just before she could grab a handful of his shirt and pull him into a kiss. "But, uh, I don't suppose you could dress as Spirit sometimes? Because you look really hot in that!" he said with a lecherous grin.
"Ack! Hentai!" Hikari shouted.
She hit him with a giant mallet, easily sending him flying into the wall even though she was still in her human form. A large section of drywall was dented, and Toji went sliding down to the floor with a groan.
Hikari gasped. "Toji! Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry! Are you okay?" she then noticed the mallet in her hand and frowned in confusion. "Where did this come from? Hey, looks like I have a new power! Yatta!"
My Heart Bleeds for You
"Hi, guys," Toji greeted Shinji and Kensuke before he practically collapsed in his seat at their usual lunch table.
Kensuke blinked. "Toji? You okay, man? You look exhausted!"
Toji chuckled, leaning his face on his hand and closing his eyes. "I'm beat. It turns out that Hikari only ever sleeps four hours a night. Guess what she wants to do with the other four?"
Kensuke's eye twitched. "Are you complaining about too much…?"
"It was awesome at first!" Toji all but wailed. "But I just can't keep up with her. That S2 organ thingy she has makes it totally impossible. I haven't had a good night's sleep in weeks! I've been falling asleep standing up recently!"
Toji blinked when Shinji held out a hand and then did the "playing the world's smallest violin" gesture.
"Shinji?" Toji asked, looking up and realizing that Shinji looked even more wiped out than he felt.
Shinji paled and then dove under the table. Seconds later, the Silver Surfer and the Ghost Rider flew over the schoolyard, both of them searching for him. After failing to find the Third Child, the two of them flew off.
"Are they gone?" Shinji asked softly as he came out from under the table.
A massive green hand suddenly grabbed the Third Child's collar and lifted him high off his feet. Shinji gulped as he was brought eye to eye with an eight foot tall Amazon.
"Shin-chan should no hide," the She-Hulk said. "Shin-chan should know…that She-Hulk SNUGGLE!"
She placed the boy between her massive breasts, pinning him snuggly in place, then leapt into the air and was gone.
"Poor guy," Toji commented.
Kensuke scowled darkly. "Bastards the both of you," he grumbled.