Disclaimer: I do not own Evangelion, or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything belonging to Marvel Comics or anything associated with it. I have written this story solely because I enjoy writing.

It was the middle of the afternoon, and Yui Ikari was resting beneath a cherry tree, it's branches filled with hundreds of beautiful, pink blossoms. It was just one of grove of similar trees, and the air that tussled her hair was filled with their sweet fragrance. A short distance away, the ocean was lapping at a pristine beach beneath a clear, blue sky. The sun was shining down upon the cherry blossom grove, providing a gentle warmth that was perfect for napping.

However, Yui couldn't help but frown at her idyllic surroundings, and for a very important reason; they weren't real. The trees, the beach, the ocean, even the sun itself, were all constructs created by her mind, as an attempt to make her existence more bearable. For although she existed, she was no longer alive in the way she would have considered being alive. Her physical body was gone, and her mind and soul were now trapped in a world outside the physical plain. Trapped in the world inside of Evangelion Unit 01.

"I knew this was what would happen. I knew that when I accepted my fate," she mused to herself, though her words did nothing to take away any of her loneliness, or the pain of the things she knew.

It had only been one month since that day, one month since Yui had surrendered herself to the Eva, choosing to become its soul. She remembered the look on her son's face, the joy and excitement he had displayed over seeing the biomechanical giants she had helped to create. Artificial life forms that were to be humanity's ultimate defenders. The Evangelions.

Cloned from the flesh of Adam, the 1st Angel, the first of the most dangerous enemy humanity had ever faced, the Evas had been created to protect the Earth, in case these monstrous creatures ever attacked. The Instrumentality Committee had been certain that they would, and had gathered scientists who would be able to provide them with defenders. Scientists like Yui.

Hanging her head in shame, Yui couldn't help but marvel at just how blind she had been. It was true, working on such a project was the dream of any true scientist. The opportunity for advancement, for benefiting the world, and the funding made available to fuel the project, all of these had been too enticing for her to ignore. And under her supervision, two of the Evangelions had been constructed; the Design Prototype, Unit 00, and the Test Type, Unit 01. And all for the sake of humanity. An altruistic goal with the promise of advancement, and the opportunity to make her mark on the world at large.

"Gendo…I will never forgive you. You or SEELE," Yui muttered bitterly, amazed at just how blind she had been to their intentions. She had been horrified on that day when she learned their real plans; to meld the souls of all humanity into an unfeeling whole inside of Lilith, the 2nd Angel, all because they felt that humanity had reached an evolutionary dead end, and it would be better to eradicate free will, free thinking, the ability to truly exist!

This had been horrifying enough, but the revelation that her own husband was a willing part to it had devastated her. "Gendo…Rokubungi…how could you do this?! Don't you care about our son?! Or anyone else?" Yui asked, expecting no answer. She had always known Gendo to be afraid of relating to other people, that he didn't really understand the connections, friendships, and loves that humans had. But she had never imagined that he would ever be a party to something like this! And now…!

"I'm sorry, Shinji," Yui wept, thinking of the happy little boy she had left behind. All because she had learned the role Unit 01 played in SEELE's plans. How it was the control mechanism for their plans, one that could be rendered completely useless if the soul inside of it would not cooperate with them. So, she had made a choice. She had willingly abandoned her son, her life, all to protect him. To insure that he and other children would have a future.

But Gendo had not been dissuaded. He had merely come up with a new plan, one that he had explained to Unit 01, boasting of how he and Yui would be together again. Instead of the Instrumentality that SEELE had planned, he had found a way to hijack Third Impact. To change it in such a way that the souls of all that lived would be banished from Earth entirely, rather than absorbed into Lilith. That he and Yui would live forever together inside of Unit 01. In the meantime, he had begun his plans for Shinji, conditioning him so that he would want nothing more than to die, to take all that lived with him.

"My boy, my little boy…" Yui sobbed, thinking of the pain that would fill his life. "Please…forgive me…"

While misery wrapped about Yui, something else was observing her.

An ancient force of creation was passing by the Earth, scrutinizing the world and its inhabitants, trying in vain to understand the weak organics that lived there. For although this creature had lived for many millennia, and seen much during that time, it still failed to understand so much. Emotional interaction, sensations of love, lust, hate, desire, sadness, pain, all of these things eluded it, despite the creature's various observations.

Then, as it soared through Earth's atmosphere unseen, something caught its attention. Intense emotion, love and hate and pain and longing, all in such amounts that the creature was stunned by the very intensity of it. Its curiosity piqued, the creature moved closer to the Earth, searching out the source of the emotion.

Where is it? Where is it coming from? the creature wondered as it drew closer, searching through the various shelters human used to protect themselves from the elements. As the sensations drew closer, the creature focused on a deep, underground structure. Plunging deep into the Earth, the creature emerged into a geofront. It studied its surroundings for a moment, aware of the extraordinary things it sensed. There were several life forms of interest. One of which was buried very deep beneath it, and seemed to be asleep. It was ancient, and possessed a powerful mind…but it was not the source of the intense emotions that the creature had sensed. That was much closer.

Without any hesitation, the creature moved into a massive pyramid, and started searching. It wasn't long in finding what it was searching for; a giant humanoid entity, encased in purple armor. Somewhere, deep inside the purple beast, was the source of the intense emotions the creature had sensed. Perhaps if I find the source of these feelings, I can finally begin to learn about them, and understand them, the creature thought. It was not excited; it simply wasn't capable of that. There was, however, anticipation as it entered Unit 01. Anticipation at being one step closer to understanding one of the mysteries of the cosmos.

Lightning crackled about the mental landscape Yui had created, and the soul within Unit 01 was stunned by the energy playing through the world of her mind. "What is this? What's going on?!" she demanded of her surroundings, looking about in search of the disturbance.

As she looked around her, an orb of fire appeared in the sky above her. "You are the one," a voice came, even as the orb took shape. Massive wings spread out from it, then a tail. Gripping claws appeared next, and finally, an avian head. "You are the one I have been searching for."

Narrowing her eyes at the bird of fire, Yui asked, "Who are you?"

"Across the many seas of the stars, I have been given many names, and appeared in many forms," the bird explained, looking Yui right in her eyes. "However, in my visits to this world, this is the form in which I am perceived, and the name given me here…is Phoenix."

Yui's eyes went wide at this. "Phoenix? The legendary bird of fire, rising from the ashes of its previous life?!" she got out.

"That is correct. Like all of creation, my existence is a cycle; life, death, and rebirth. I am creation, the essence of life in its most primal form," Phoenix stated. There was no boasting to its words; it was merely stating something that had happened to be true.

Cocking her head at the mighty bird before her, Yui slowly stepped towards it. "I see," she replied. "Then…why are you here? What is it you wish of me?"

"I have seen many things throughout my existence, and have discovered much about the universe around me. And yet, despite all of my wanderings, despite the many races and forms of life I have observed, one thing eludes me," Phoenix explained. "Emotions. Sensations. Desires. Needs. All of the things beings like yourself are capable of…are beyond my reach."

"You…are incapable of emotion?" Yui frowned.

"That is correct. Furthermore, I am incapable of understanding its impact on beings upon yourself, why these things drive you the way they do," Phoenix told her, looking about the mental landscape Yui had created. "For example, this image you have created…why have you done this? It serves no practical purpose, and yet…I sense a need in you to maintain it. Why is that?"

Sighing, Yui started, "It was one of the few things of comfort left to me. What little I can do to make my own…existence more bearable."

"Comfort? What is that? And how can a simple mental image help you?"

Yui opened her mouth, but then something occurred to her. To a being that had no emotions of its own, trying to describe all the vagaries of sensation seemed impossible. However… "Phoenix, you told me that you can sense emotions, but you cannot experience them yourself."

The bird of fire nodded. "That is correct."

"Then…is there a way for you to experience what I am feeling? For me to somehow channel my emotions into you?" Yui asked, feeling her delight at scientific discovery returning to her. A being as old as creation itself, which had seen the cosmos when it was still young, and now it hovered before her!

Phoenix seemed to consider this idea for a time. "It is possible. Since we are in the same physical host, my soul can mingle with your own."

"Then, please, allow me to share with you some of what I feel," Yui offered, reaching out with her hand. "In my experience, the best way to learn something is to live through it, rather than hearing about it or seeing it. So…let me help you experience emotions for yourself."

The bird of flame's eyes widened at this, then narrowed as it considered what Yui was offering. To be so close to what it had always strived to understand, to actually feel the sensations and emotions it had observed, but did not possess…! "Very well, then. Let it be done." With that, Phoenix drew closer to Yui, lowering its head so that she could place her hand upon its brow. As she did so, she focused on a single thing. The boy she had abandoned so that she could keep him safe. The boy Gendo was so eager to torment. Her own Shinji.

The very instant Yui touched Phoenix, sent what she felt into it, the great firebird reeled in shock. "So much! There's so much!! These…these FEELINGS!!" Phoenix screamed as it fluttered away, its eyes wide in confusion. Love, hate, joy, sorrow, pain, courage, caring, determination, along with a thousands of other subtle shades of emotions coursed through Phoenix's mind for the first time in all of its existence, and it was completely overwhelmed. "So intense! So maddening! SO MUCH!!"

"Wait!!" Yui cried out as Phoenix rose unsteadily into the sky, screaming madly as it exited the world inside of Unit 01. As she watched it disappear, a heavy sorrow formed around her. Not only had she lost a chance at discovery…but she was alone again. And would likely be alone…forever.

Months passed, and Yui continued to shape the world inside of the Eva, doing her best to bear the unbearable as she did. While she did so, she slowly established connections with the MAGI, so that she could at least monitor the world outside of the Eva. See how SEELE's plans were unfolding…and keep track of her beloved Shinji.

Gendo came to visit several times, speaking of how much he loved and desired her, all the while cursing the rest of humanity as being sinful, worthless creatures that didn't deserve to live. You're the one who doesn't deserve to live, Rokubungi! Yui had thought bitterly after one of those visits. If it weren't for Shinji, I'd wish that I had never met you! As it is…I should have killed you. If I had known what you were capable of…I would have killed you.

Then, one day that was virtually seamless with all the other days that had passed before it, Yui felt strange. Almost like…someone was looking at her. Looking about her surroundings, Yui's eyes widened as she caught sight of a tiny ball of fire a short distance away. "Phoenix?" she inquired, starting towards the tiny spark of flame. As she approached, however, the spark faded away. "Phoenix, wait!!"

Arriving where she had seen the tiny orb of flame, Yui looked about in confusion. "I thought Phoenix had left. That it had gotten what it had wanted," she mused, trying to puzzle the matter out. "But…then why is it still here? Why didn't it show itself like before?" Yui thought the matter some more, but eventually gave it up. Phoenix was something completely alien to her, and thus…perhaps impossible for her to understand.

It was another month before Yui sensed Phoenix again. Just like before, she sensed a tiny orb of fire, spying on her from a distance, one that would disappear as soon as it was discovered. It wasn't long before it happened again. And again, becoming more frequent over time, to the point where she caught sight of the ancient being every day.

Why is it doing this? Yui wondered after spotting Phoenix again, only to have it disappear. If it got what it had wanted, then why is it still here? And if it wants to understand emotions…why not come to me? Why not talk to me, ask me to help it?

The scientist puzzled the matter over for several days, slowly becoming frustrated with Phoenix's elusiveness…until it finally hit her. When Phoenix had allowed Yui to channel some of her emotions into it, it had experienced something so completely alien it that it was completely incapable of understanding what was happening. So, like so many creatures, it had responded by running away. But it had not left Earth for the simple reason that it still didn't understand what it had experienced. In all likelihood, it wanted to experience more, to understand more.

I know how that feels, Yui decided with a smile. In a very real way, Phoenix was acting like herself; trying to unlock a mystery. But it was dealing with something that it was incapable of comprehending even after having experienced it, and so it had lingered, staying ever close to that which it saw as the key to unraveling this mystery. Eager to learn…but tentative about going through that experience again. Of being overwhelmed by that which it desired.

When Yui realized this, she smiled broadly, and started laughing. It's acting like Shinji after I caught him taking a cookie from the cookie jar! Yui thought, the image causing her to fall to the ground, laughing out loud. That the Phoenix, quite possibly the oldest and most powerful being in all of the cosmos, was acting like a little boy, looking at what it coveted, but wary of trying to seize it and being caught in the act, was quite possibly the funniest thing she had ever experienced in her entire life. Like a grand cosmic joke!

Yui laughed and kept laughing for quite some time, rolling across the ground in the throes of mirth. However, when she finally stopped laughing, she realized something important; that she had something that Phoenix craved above all else. For a creature that, by its very nature, couldn't experience desire on its own, to feel desire and all the other emotions humans were capable of was what it desired above all else. Meaning that, for whatever reason it had sought Yui out, it would keep coming back. Back for more emotions, and further understanding.

Smiling, Yui realized two very important things. One was that the opportunity for learning, to understand so many mysteries of life now lay open to her in Phoenix, and she was determined to make the most of it. Another was that…she was no longer alone. That there was potentially someone for her to talk to, to be with.

For the first time in a long while, she looked upon her incarceration within the Eva with a sense of hope…

Almost a year had passed since Yui had first entered the Eva, with the Phoenix becoming increasingly bolder as time went by. Now, when it appeared, she pretended to be unaware of its presence, and so it came closer to her, observing her for longer periods of time before once again disappearing. It certainly is patient, she admitted. Then again, I suppose it has nothing but time. Like me…

Wondering what it must be like for such a creature, traveling all of space, all alone, Yui once again allowed herself to become lost in thought, barely aware that she was once again being watched. Watched by something as curious about her as she was about it.

In that brief, blinding moment when their souls had been in contact, Phoenix had been seared with such intense emotions, emotions against which it had no defense, no way of shielding itself from. It had witnessed life, death, and rebirth times beyond number, and had experienced many of the wonders of the cosmos. However, in all that time, it had never felt any wonder at what it experienced. The things it had experienced simply were:no more, no less.

However, when it Yui had channeled her emotion into Phoenix, it had felt. It had felt and lived and dreamed and experienced in ways a thousand times greater than it could ever have thought possible. It was a force of creation, and yet the soul of the human woman before it was, in a way, far more alive than the Phoenix had ever been.

I must know. I must understand, Phoenix thought as it observed Yui's daily affairs. It felt so close to the solution, to what it sought, that the thought of simply turning away now was anathema to it. And yet…to subject itself to that maelstrom of emotion once again…to lose itself in that madness. Is that why humans and other sentient beings are driven to war? Do their own untamed emotions drive them to that madness? As this question surfaced in Phoenix's mind, it realized now that it was far closer to understanding that it had realized.

I must make contact with the human again. Perhaps she can help me…understand what I experienced. Maybe she can help me…feel more. With this thought in mind, Phoenix drew closer to Yui, though it did not take on the form of the storied bird of fire. Instead, it remained in the form of simple ball of flame, coming ever closer to the human woman that had become the focus of every thought in its mind.

"Hello, Phoenix," Yui suddenly said, taking the ancient being by surprise. As it hovered behind her, Yui smiled and turned to look at it. "I've been wondering when you were going to speak again."

"You…have been aware of me this entire time?" Phoenix asked, as close to surprise as it was capable.

Shrugging, Yui answered, "More or less. I've noticed you showing up every now and again, and I was sure that you hadn't gone very far."

"Since that day, when you allowed me to experience what you experience, letting me share what it means to be alive as you are, I have not been far from this creature," Phoenix replied, the tiny ball of flame seeming to gesture at the world around them. "Never before have I been so close to the answers to my questions, and yet…I am still so very far away. I have experienced emotions, and yet…I still don't understand them."

"I think I know what you mean," Yui replied. "Since I met you, I often wondered what it must be like, traveling the stars, seeing what you've seen…but never feeling anything as a result." Frowning, Yui slowly moved closer to the spark of flame. "Since the day I allowed myself to become a part of this Evangelion, I have been able to observe the outside world through its systems, keeping track of what's going on around me…but unable to do anything about it. And it makes me feel empty inside, Phoenix. Empty and terribly alone."

"I…think I understand that which you speak of…" Phoenix responded tentatively, causing Yui to cock her head. "Since that moment, I have been able to think of nothing but that feeling, that sensation of having so much inside of me. And since it's passing, I have also felt…empty inside. Diminished. Less than what I once was."

"I know how that is," Yui replied sadly.

"Then, please, help me understand. Let me experience what you have, and help me to learn," Phoenix pleaded. As it did so, Yui felt (correctly) that this was quite possibly the first time in all of history that the Phoenix had ever made a request.

"I'll be happy to help you," Yui replied. Then, with a broader smile, she continued. "And please, help me understand what it is like for you. To have seen so much, to have gone so many places. Help me understand what you have experienced."

"I will do so, Yui Ikari," Phoenix replied instantly, much to the woman's delight. "It seems that there is a great deal that we can learn from one another."

"It does, indeed," Yui agreed. "Then, we will talk, and we will share, and we will learn from each other. For as long as we are able."

"Yes," Phoenix murmured, and with that, it began to take shape. But instead of the grand bird of flame Yui had seen before, the fire of Phoenix took on a humanoid shape. Becoming almost a mirror image of herself.

"You look…like me," Yui breathed as she looked at fire that was shaped in her own likeness.

"As I explained, I have no true form of my own. This shape is no more my true self than the bird-image witnessed thousands of years ago by your ancestors," Phoenix explained. "However, it seemed more…appropriate to take this form. After all, in a very real way, I shall be living your life."

For several seconds, Yui looked at her fiery doppelganger, and eventually smiled. "That is true, Phoenix," she finally said before sitting down on the ground, gesturing for Phoenix to follow suit. "Then…let's begin living again."

"Yes," was Phoenix's reply.

The Phoenix's return was a godsend for Yui; for almost a decade, she lived and interacted with the ancient creature, its presence driving away the loneliness that had held her tight. They talked to each other, learned what is was like to live they way they lived, and sometimes, they would let each other see the universe through their own eyes.

In the mind of Phoenix, Yui saw wonder upon wonder. Many mysteries of the universe stood unfolded before her, revealing so many answers, even more questions, and she delighted in both. In the mind of Yui, Phoenix understood what it was like to be mortal, to live, to breath, to interact with others like itself, to be in conflict, to be in love, and to be betrayed, and have that love shattered. It was an intoxicating experience for the both of them, and by necessity, they allowed themselves reprieves between the sharings, knowing that to do otherwise…would be to drown in madness.

Then, the day Yui knew would come arrived; the day Gendo summoned Shinji to Tokyo 3, to use him to awaken Unit 01, to begin his hideous plans. "My boy," Yui had wept, seeing the misery that was so plain on his face as Captain Misato Katsuragi escorted him into NERV for the very first time. "My happy little boy…Rokubungi, what have you done to him?!"

"I do not understand," Phoenix said as Shinji was led to Unit 01. "Why is this Gendo Rokubungi so determined to destroy all that lives? Does he not care for this boy the way you do?"

"I once thought that he did," Yui answered bitterly as an agonizing drama unfolded before her; how Gendo dangled the maimed Rei Ayanami before Shinji, making him choose between piloting Unit 01…or letting the albino girl who looked so much like his own mother die in battle. "But I was wrong. For that which you covet most…is what he fears more than anything. Because he doesn't understand it…and does not wish to learn to do so."

The world outside the Eva shuddered, and several I-beams fell down towards Shinji and a ravaged Rei. Horrified by the vision, Yui screamed in terror…only to be greeted by the sight of Unit 01's arm rising up to shield the two children.

"How is this possible? The Entry Plug wasn't even inserted! The Eva shouldn't be able to move on its own like that!" Yui protested, her eyes wide in amazement.

"It moved because you wished it to move," Phoenix responded. When Yui looked at Phoenix, the ancient creature mirrored her motion. "This entity you call an Evangelion is possessed by your soul and mine. Mine is what gives it power when it should have none. Yours is what gives it the will to protect that which you love."

"I see," Yui responded, frowning unhappily as Gendo's evil drama continued, with Shinji choosing to pilot in order to spare Rei her fate. "Phoenix…isn't there anything you can do?! Any we can stop all of this?!"

The ancient being frowned with the fiery mirror of Yui's own face. "There is very little I can do from within the Evangelion; it lacks a soul of its own. I can endow it with some of my power, but if I use too much, since it has no mind of its own, it will be driven mad and never stop rampaging. And my power is of little use unless it is channeled through something physical. I would not be able to battle on your son's behalf on my own," Phoenix slowly explained. Then, with eyes narrowed, it spoke grimly. "There is one possibility, but…it would come only with a terrible price."

"What is it?" Yui asked desperately.

"I can free your mind, body, and soul from this Evangelion, and from there, use you as a host," Phoenix explained carefully. "With my power channeled through your mind, body, and soul, you would have the power needed to destroy all of the entities you call Angels."

"Then…let's do it!" Yui cried out. "If it means that I can protect my son, and the world, then…!"

"It is not that simple, Yui," Phoenix interrupted. "Since that first time you channeled your emotions into me, I have created certain…buffers between myself and you, as well as the Evangelion. These barriers prevent me from being driven wild by your emotions. However, in your own body, those barriers would not exist, and would in fact be impossible." As Phoenix spoke, hope slowly faded from Yui's face, and was finally obliterated. "If it I were to use you as a host, I would not wish to leave your body; the temptations of your flesh would simply be too great for me to withstand. We would both go mad from it, and the destruction we would be capable of would be far in excess of anything the Angels could ever accomplish. We would destroy all that you desire to protect."

"I…I see," Yui muttered, watching helplessly as Shinji tried to make Unit 01 move, to battle the 3rd Angel. "Then…let us do what we can, for now. Perhaps, someday…we will find a way to do even more." Focusing on the Angel that even now was trying to kill her son, Yui gritted with determination. "All we can do now…is our best, and hope that it is enough."

"Hope is a very interesting human concept," Phoenix noted as they prepared themselves. "So intangible, and yet potent, nonetheless. It was one of the things that I…like most about you, Yui Ikari, and your people."

"Thank you, Phoenix," Yui responded. "Now…let's do what we can."

Unknowing of the help he was receiving from both his mother and Phoenix, Shinji was able to defeat the 3rd Angel, and with each synchronization he made with Unit 01, Yui was able to see what was happening in his life. She saw that Misato Katsuragi, the only survivor of the scientific team that had been tricked into causing Second Impact, had taken him into her home and her heart. She saw how the woman cared for her son, slowly drawing him out of the perpetual misery that Gendo had turned his life into.

Yui watched Shinji's relationship with Rei Ayanami, the girl who had been cloned from Yui and Lilith. His interactions with her helped strengthen his resolve to do what was right, and her presence quickly proved to be of great comfort to him. In return, Rei was also drawn out of her own shell, becoming more animate with each interaction.

When Shinji met Asuka Langley-Sohryu, Yui wasn't sure that it was for the best. Though her former colleague Kyoko had mentioned her daughter to Yui, the brash, abrasive redhead she saw in Shinji's mind was nothing like the little Wondergirl Kyoko had talked about. But Yui knew that the German girl had been subjected to SEELE's manipulations as well, and over time, she saw hints of caring escape Asuka's superior facade.

With each new friend Shinji made, with each new step he took out of the pain of the life Gendo had forced upon him, Yui rejoiced. For the first time in ten years, it seemed possible that Shinji would be able to escape the fate Gendo had written for him, that things might work out for the best, after all. And in the mean time, both Yui and Phoenix stood ready to protect him. When Unit 01 became trapped in the 12th Angel, it had been the power of Phoenix that had brought the purple behemoth back to life, allowing it to destroy the Dirac Sea that made up the Angel's body.

Then, on the day that Unit 03 was supposed to arrive to arrive in Japan, something horrendous happened. It had infected by the 13th Angel, imprisoning within it its pilot.

"Rokubungi…" Yui growled, knowing full well that this had to be part of Gendo's plans. He had schemed too well, and with the knowledge of the Dead Sea scrolls, he had to have anticipated that this would happen. Now, the three Evangelions NERV commanded laying in wait for the possessed Unit 03, unaware that they had become pawns in another of Gendo's horrifying manipulations. "We will stop you from doing this. I don't know how, but we will find a way."

"We had best find that way quickly, Yui," Phoenix responded, a hint of residual disgust in its voice. Though Phoenix was incapable of hatred, for a force of primal creation, the thought of the destruction Gendo and SEELE planned for the Earth was intolerable. "Soon, we will have to make a choice. The lives of the three Children, or the boy whom Gendo intends to see die."

"I know," Yui gritted, narrowing her eyes as the horrendous battle took place. Filled with the power of the 13th Angel, Unit 03 was capable of moving without an outside power source, and easily defeated both Units 00 and 02. Then, just Shinji was being forced to make that choice himself, Yui asked, "Phoenix, can you enter Unit 03? Stop it from inside?"

The ancient being pondered this, and then slowly shook its head. "If I were to do so, the result would be the same if I were to possess your own body. Though the emotions of these Angels are more subdued than your own, I would still be intoxicated by them. Maddened. And within an Angel, a most terrible power would be loosed; the odds of the pilot being slain would be very high."

Yui frowned at this. She was the soul of the most horrifying weapon ever conceived by humanity, and Phoenix was an entity beyond human comprehension. And yet, by the very exigencies of their situation, they were both powerless. And so, they continued to watch as Shinji allowed himself to be throttled by the 13th Angel, refusing to kill, even to save his own life.

"My boy…" Yui wept, proud of the courage her son displayed, and yet horrified by the very real danger he faced. Then, her horror changed down as Unit 01 went mad, and began fighting back. "No! The Dummy System!"

"Yui, I am afraid that we have run out of time," Phoenix confessed calmly.

"No! We can't let this happen!" Yui roared, thinking of the agony Shinji would be forced to endure if he were forced to kill one of his fellow pilots. "Phoenix, is there any way for you to stop Unit 01?"

Phoenix considered this for a moment. "Yes, by overloading the control systems. The Eva would no longer be capable of receiving commands from your son, or the Dummy Plug. However, this would result in Shinji dying, unless he were also absorbed by Unit 01."

"Then do it," Yui replied. "I won't let Rokubungi hurt my son anymore."

"But Yui, Unit 01 would be rendered immobile. It would be unable to stop the 13th Angel from attacking Tokyo 3. It would be free to initiate Third Impact," Phoenix countered.

"Use Unit 01's AT Field to trap the 13th Angel. Keep it from escaping, but make sure it can't attack us, either," Yui replied, desperate to get Phoenix to do something before it was too late. "With the control systems gone, Unit 01 won't be able to berserk from your power."

Phoenix frowned slightly, and then nodded. "Very well. So you wish, so shall be done." As Phoenix began to channel its power in the way Yui demanded, it looked at her once again. "This will not solve our problem, you understand. At the very best…it will only delay matters for a time."

"That will be more time then we will have otherwise," Yui replied, determined to protect her son from Gendo's scheming. No matter what it cost her personally.

She would protect her son…

From the bridge of NERV, Gendo Ikari watched the battle unfold, a deep pleasure welling up in him as he heard his son scream in protest, completely unaware that one of his only friends was about to die by his own hand. True, it would have been much better if Shinji had decided that his life had more value than that worthless brat Toji Suzuhara, but the results would be the same. Shinji would be one step closer to becoming the perfect tool for his plans, and Gendo…Gendo would be one step closer to being reunited with the one person he wished to be with above all else.

"What's happening?!" Maya Ibuki shrieked, her voice bringing Gendo back to the present as his eyes went wide. On the screen, Unit 01 had stopped attacking the corrupted Eva, and was convulsing uncontrollably. As flames roared to life all about its body, Unit 01 continued to scream in outrage and pain…before finally collapsing to the ground.

"Unit 01 is immobilized! It's control systems have been destroyed! We've lost all telemetry with it!" Shigeru Aoba reported, having gone white with fear.

"No!" Gendo cried out, aghast at this development. Before his eyes, the 13th Angel was recovering from the damage done to it, and was eyeing the fallen Eva curiously, as if it couldn't understand why its enemy had suddenly collapsed. Then, as if deciding to make the most of its reprieve, the possessed Eva's arms stretched out horribly, moving to ensnare Unit 01 like a pair of boa constrictors…only to be stopped by Unit 01's AT Field.

"What's going on?!" Makoto Hyuga gaped, looking at the barrier of light that protected Unit 01. Unlike the orange light that he and the other NERV personnel were used to, this shield seemed to be composed of the fiery power that had ripped through Unit 01. Over and over again, the 13th Angel pounded upon the shield, but no matter how it attacked, no matter how much it increased the power of its own AT Field, it could not overcome the barrier that had been set against it.

"Unit 01's AT Field…I've never seen anything like this! Its power has been magnified beyond the MAGI's ability to calculate!" Maya reported, her eyes threatening to become larger than the sockets they were in.

As the Angel realized that it was at an impasse, it looked around, as if unsure as to what it should do. Lashing out with one of its whip-like arms, the infected Eva found that the AT Field that protected Unit 01 surrounded it as well. Roaring its fury, the 13th Angel pounded upon its prison, but was unable to challenge the power that contained it.

"Ikari…what is happening?" Kozo Fuyutsuki wondered, his eyes wide with shock. Then, as the sub commander looked at his former student, he was even more surprised at the stunned expression he wore. For the first time since Fuyutsuki had met Gendo, he realized that the commander of NERV, one of the most brilliant and ruthless people he had ever met, was completely at a loss. Gendo had no idea what was happening, and for Fuyutsuki, that was possibly the most frightening thing about their situation.

As Yui continued to watch the 13th Angel struggle to free itself, she waited impatiently for Phoenix to return with Shinji. While Unit 01 had been systematically disabled, the ancient being had neutralized Shinji's own AT Field, dissolving the body that rendered him a being separate from the Eva. And now, Phoenix was bringing the soul of Yui's son to her.

My boy. I'm going to be with my boy again! Yui kept thinking, every second an eternity as she awaited Phoenix's return. After ten years being apart from him, and having been only a helpless witness to Shinji's life in recent times, to once again hold him in her arms, to caress and care for him, even though it would only be within the world of the Eva, was like a dream come true for her.

However, as she waited, she couldn't help but fearing what Shinji's reaction to her would be. Will he hate me for what I've done? she wondered, knowing that, although her reasons had been justified, she was still as guilty of abandoning Shinji as Gendo was. Will he understand what's going on? Will he…believe that it really is me?

Just as Yui thought she was going to go mad from waiting, an orb of flame appeared within in the Eva, resolving into the bird-image most people associated with Phoenix. Smiling, Yui realized that the ancient being had learned a great deal in the time they had been together. It knew that to mirror Yui's form would be confusing for Shinji. We've both learned a great deal from each other, Yui thought, even as a smaller orb of light appeared from Phoenix.

"I have brought your son, Yui, as you desired," Phoenix intoned as the orb of light resolved into the shape of a boy. A darling boy, ten years away from the four-year-old she had once tucked into bed every night she had been able.

"W-what's going on? Where's the Eva? Where am I?!" Shinji stammered out upon seeing his surroundings. Looking about frantically, the boy got to his feet, turned around, and saw the Phoenix hovering behind him.

As Shinji gasped in shock at the sight of the magnificent bird, Yui rushed up to him, and wrapped her arms about his shoulders. "No, Shinji, it's okay! It's alright now! You're safe here!"

"Huh?!" Shinji gaped, looking over his shoulders at the woman who was holding him. "W-who…?" he started, his face blasted with shock at the sight of Yui's face. Then, as she continued to hold him, his features softened, fear shifting to confusion, and then slowly, to recognition. "Mo…Mother?"

At this one word, every scrap of self-control remaining to Yui was torn asunder, and her face contorted with love and pain and all the feelings she had felt as she had watched his life from a distance, never being able to comfort him, to be with him when he needed her most. "My boy…" she gasped as tears streamed down her face, and the soul of Unit 01 drew Shinji as tightly to herself as she could, never wanting to let him go again.

"W-what's happening?!" Shinji gasped out as he instinctively returned the embrace, his eyes wide with a thousand emotions swirling about chaotically. "Mother?! How…am I dead?!"

"No, Shinji Ikari, your soul has not returned to the ether," Phoenix stated, the bird of fire keeping its distance, for the emotional intensity radiated by the two humans was far in excess of anything Phoenix could have expected. "However, you are no longer alive as you would consider life."

"What?" Shinji got out as he once again looked at Phoenix. "What's happening to me? Who are you?"

"That…is the Phoenix," Yui stated, causing Shinji to once stare at her in shock. Smiling in deep sadness, Yui rubbed his cheek, and sighed. "It's…a long story, my son."

For the next few hours, Yui explained to Shinji what had happened to her ten years ago. She told him of the horrors planned by Gendo and SEELE, why she had entered the Eva and how Phoenix had come to reside in the Eva with her. "And…that's where we stand now," Yui finished, looking at her son expectantly, wondering how he would react to all of this. She knew that even the most brilliant minds would be dazed by the story she had just told, unable to accept their new reality.

However, as Shinji looked at his mother and Phoenix, Yui saw a spark of the wonder he had once had in his eyes when he looked at the Evas over a decade earlier. Rejoicing at the innocence that had not been entirely pressed from him, Yui listened as Shinji smiled wanly and said, "I always wondered why…Eva's Entry Plug felt so comfortable, even though it smelled like blood. But…it was because of you, wasn't it? You were here, all this time…"

"Yes, and I'm sorry, Shinji. I'm sorry I wasn't there for you before, that you had to go through so much," Yui wept.

"I…understand, mother. It's just…I never realized that…Father…" Struggling with what he was feeling, Shinji slowly shook his head, before his eyes sharpened, his demeanor became resolute. "Listen…we have to save Unit 03's pilot! He's just another child, like me! We can't just let him die!"

"Phoenix and I have been trying to think of a way to save Unit 03's pilot, Shinji," Yui answered, pride at her son's courage and compassion surging through her. "The problem is, we haven't been able to think of anything. Phoenix needs a physical form to channel its power through, something alive, like a human or the Eva."

"However, the Evangelions have all been disabled, save for Unit 03," Phoenix explained. "And though I could return you and your mother to the physical world, use one of you as a host, I would be driven mad by your human emotions, and so would my host. We would become far more dangerous than any of the Angels you have faced."

"Uh…do you have to have a host to use your power?" Shinji wondered as he looked at Phoenix in confusion.

The ancient firebird blinked at the question. "We already explained that my power is of no use unless channeled through a host."

"But…do you have to be inside the host for it to work?" Shinji asked, causing the eyes of both Yui and Phoenix to go wide. "I mean, can't you just broadcast your power into me, like a TV signal or something?"

As Yui processed Shinji's words, a cricket chirped off in the distance, the only sound in the otherwise silent world of the Eva. "That…never even occurred to me…" Yui finally gaped as she looked towards Phoenix. "Can you do that?"

"It is…possible," Phoenix responded, seemingly dazed by the thought. "I have never attempted anything like that in the past, and yet…it should work."

As Yui looked at the Phoenix, the ancient being of flame returned her gaze, and slowly, so slowly that she didn't even realize what was happening, Yui smiled, and began to laugh. "Mother?" Shinji wondered as Yui's laughter increased.

"I do not understand what you could find amusing about this situation," Phoenix admitted.

"I…I don't blame you, Phoenix," Yui got out around her mirth. "It's just that…before I was absorbed into the Eva…I thought I was so smart. Helping create the Evangelions, deciphering the secrets of Angelic physiology, and yet…I couldn't even think of such a simple solution to our problem!"

"Neither could I. Before I met you, I had no reason to use my power in the ways I have since the day I first entered Unit 01," Phoenix admitted. "Yui Ikari, I have learned more about myself since meeting you than in all the eons that came before. Even now, you humans have taught me something; that interaction brings change. And change brings learning."

"We have both learned a great deal, Phoenix," Yui replied smilingly. "Now…let us act. Let us help those who need us most."

"Mother, wait!" Shinji protested. "I-I'll do it! Phoenix can use me as its host, and…"

"No, Shinji," Yui replied, kneeling down before her son. "You've already fought long enough, been hurt too much while I was inside of the Eva."

"But…that's not your fault," Shinji responded, worry marking his face. "If you hadn't, father…"

"I know, but that doesn't change the fact that I wasn't there for you when you needed me," Yui murmured, running her fingers across the boy's cheek. "Please, let me do this. Let me protect you and the other children. Let me do something to help you."

Frowning, Shinji just stood there, look at his mother before wrapping his arms around her. "Please…be careful. I don't want to lose you again."

"You won't, Shinji. You won't," Yui assured him, holding him tight. Then, turning to look at Phoenix, she asked, "Are you ready?"

"Yes," Phoenix agreed. The ancient bird of flame then rose above the mother and her son, pouring its power into the woman with whom it had become so close…

"I still…don't believe this…" Misato murmured, staring at the scene before her in disbelief.

Earlier that day, she had been severely injured when Unit 03 had destroyed the site where its activation tests were being conducted. Her left arm had been badly hurt, her head had been bandaged, and she still felt very weak. And yet, despite all of these things, not all the pain in the world would keep her from insisting on being taken to the sight where both Evas 01 and 03 remained trapped within the bizarre AT Field being generated by the purple destroyer, which now lay prone on the earth.

"I've seen some pretty strange things, Misa-chan, but this one tops them all," Kaji admitted, shaking his head ruefully as he pushed the wheelchair in which she now sat.

"And…don't we have any idea what's going in there?" Misato wondered.

"Not that I know of," Kaji replied. "The 4th Child is still alive, but as for Unit 01…we've lost all telemetry with it.

Frowning, Misato looked away from the dread tableau. "Shinji…I'm sorry," the purple-haired woman cried.

"Misato?" Kaji whispered.

"Kaji, I…I never told him, but…the 4th Child…" Misato started, her eyes falling to the ground…only to be raised in shock as the cry of a predatory bird filled the air.

"Huh?! What was that?!" Kaji gaped, the irreverent man looking in around in confusion, only to be stunned as Unit 01's body was once again engulfed in flames. The mighty scream of a bird was heard once again, and as the two of them watched in fascinated horror, Misato gasped as a massive bird of flame erupted from the chest of Unit 01 and shot into the air, filling the sky above them with fire!

"What in the…?!" she gasped as the bird flew about, circling Eva 01 a couple times before they came closer to the helicopter they were in, revealing two figures in the center of the raging inferno. One was Shinji, who was being carried in the arms of a woman in a form-fitting outfit. The main color was purple, with golden arm-length gloves, thigh-high boots, and a similarly golden sash about her waist. Emblazoned upon her chest was the image of a bird in flight. However, what really caught Misato's attention was the resemblance the woman bore to Rei Ayanami.

"Hello, Misato," the woman smiled, a deep, abiding sadness clinging to her features as she set the boy down.

"Shinji!!" Misato cried in delight upon seeing the boy, who was even now being set down by the woman. Her exhaustion fleeing in her excitement, she lifted herself from her wheelchair and stumbled out of the helicopter.

"Hey, be careful!" Kaji cautioned, even as Misato stumbled, only to be caught by both Shinji and the mysterious woman.

"Misato! Are you alright?!" Shinji cried out in concern. As the purple-haired woman looked at the boy, she then frowned in confusion at the new woman, before returning her gaze to Shinji. Then, grinning broadly, Misato fell to her knees and gave the boy a mighty bear hug.

"Shinji…" Misato wept as she caressed the boy's cheek with her own. "I was scared…I was so scared…!"

"Misato…" Shinji murmured, running his hand through her hair.

Taking in a deep breath, the woman who had carried Shinji out of the Eva smiled somewhat sadly. "Misato…you have no idea of how grateful I am to you," she smiled, even as tears of gratitude fell from her eyes. When both the Major and the boy looked at her, she continued. "You gave my son a home, and your love, when I was unable to be there for him."

"You know who I am?" Misato wondered, narrowing her eyes at the woman before they shot wide open. "Wait a minute! Did you just say…your son?!"

"That's right, Misato!" Shinji confirmed, smiling broadly as joyful tears fell from his own eyes. "This…this is my mother!"

"But…that's crazy!" Misato protested, unable to comprehend what she was hearing. "I…I thought you were…"

"I know, and it's a long story, Misato. One that will have to wait," Yui stated grimly as the possessed Eva started moving again. "I have to stop Unit 03 before anyone else is harmed by it, including the pilot."

"But how're you going to do that?" Kaji wondered, looking as confused as anyone could ever remember seeing him.

Narrowing her eyes in determination, Yui answered, "With the power…of Phoenix!" As the fiery aura of the Phoenix once again surrounded her, Yui lifted into the air, and was soon pursuing the rogue Eva.

As Shinji and Misato simply knelt there, looking at the awesome bird of flame soaring through the air, Kaji just said, "You have some mother, Shinji."

"I know," was all Shinji would say in response, smiling as he did so.

It didn't take long for Yui to intercept the 13th Angel, sliding through its AT Field effortlessly as she circled it, trying to distract it from moving any closer to Tokyo 3. "This isn't going to be easy," she mused. She had never been in a fight personally before, and Phoenix had never been forced into battle, either.

"Okay, the first thing to do is to get the pilot out of there, without damaging the Eva," Yui decided, even as the 13th Angel's arms stretched out and tried to snare her. Effortlessly avoiding them, the avatar of Phoenix slid closer to Unit 03, moving towards the Entry Plug. The cover had already been jettisoned in a failed attempt to eject the Plug, but strands of the Angel's flesh held the Plug tight. "This is going to take some precision, Phoenix. Are you ready?"

"My power is yours to command, Yui," the Phoenix sent to her.

Nodding at this, Yui channeled a tiny portion of that power into her right forefinger, and fired it off in a steady stream of flame, cutting through the Angel's flesh effortlessly. At this, Unit 03 screamed in pain and convulsed, turning about to face its new tormentor. Quickly distancing herself from the possessed biomechanical monster, Yui was forced to dodge another series of blows.

"Okay, that didn't work," Yui told herself as she bobbed and weaved through snake-like arms of the Eva. "Try something else."

Once again circling the Eva, Yui realized that the only way to deal with this problem was to move hard and fast. Once again flying up to the Entry Plug, she intensified the fiery aura about her body, tightening it into until it was barely an inch thick about her frame. Satisfied, she then shot down towards the Entry Plug, and melted through the top before the Angel could react. Once inside, she quickly dispelled the intense aura before splashing into the LCL-filled Plug, where she found Toji Suzuhara seated within.

"Whoa! Who are you?!" the athletic boy gasped in awe as he looked at the woman before him.

"A…a friend," Yui replied, narrowing her eyes in disgust at Gendo's machinations. Of course he would use Shinji's best friend against him, she thought bitterly. Rokubungi, I will see you pay for this!

Quickly returning her attention the present, Yui scooped Toji up into her arms. "Come on, I have to get you out of here!" she declared as she once lifted effortlessly into the air, surrounding herself and Toji with a protective aura of fire as they fled the corrupted Eva. As they flew back towards Shinji and the others, Unit 03 let out one final gasp before collapsing to the ground, its eyes going dark.

"I see. The Angel must have been linked to the Entry Plug!" Yui realized. "When I got you out, it was deactivated, stopping the Eva!"

"Uh, that's great and all, but…seriously, lady, who are you? And how can you fly around like this?" Toji wondered, his entire posture one of disbelief.

"That's a long story, one I will be happy to tell you about once we get back to the others," Yui replied, sighing in relief that she had been able to do something to help stop this madness.

"What is going out there?!" Gendo demanded, staring in astonishment at the display before him. Before his very eyes, some…thing made of fire had erupted from Unit 01, carrying Shinji out of it. Then it had rescued Toji from his corrupted Eva, carrying him to back to where Misato and the others were. "What is that creature?!"

"I…I don't know, sir!" Maya reported as she pounded on her keyboard frantically. "It's generating a red pattern, like a human, but the energy signature is unlike anything I've ever seen before!"

"I don't want to know what it isn't, I want to know what it is!" Gendo declared. "Get me a better view of it. Now!"

"I'm magnifying the image, sir!" Makoto told him, as even the image enlarged, pixilated, and was enhanced. Before long, they had a good enough view to see the strange being landing before Misato and the others, setting Toji down before them.

"It's…a woman!" Shigeru gasped, his eyes expanding in shock.

While the bridge crew focused on the mysterious woman, the minds of both Gendo and his former sensei were emptied from pure shock. "It…can't be…" Fuyutsuki gaped as Gendo stood, his eyes wide as he scrutinized the woman's movements, her hair, her body language. Then, when she turned about, practically looking at the camera, Gendo Ikari, considered by many the coldest man alive, sighed in longing.

"Yui…" he whispered, so softly that he could barely hear his own words.

"How is this possible?" Fuyutsuki wondered, marveling as the woman he had admired from a distance rose up into the sky and disappeared from the screen.

At this point, Gendo shook his head free of confusion, and began moving. "Have a helicopter prepped. I'm heading to the battlefield now."

"Sir?!" Maya queried.

"Just do it!" Gendo shouted in response as he left the bridge behind him, feelings that he had thought long buried surfacing within.

She's come back to me, was the only thing he could think as he made his way through NERV. She's come back to me…

After Yui had recovered Toji and returned with him, she used the power of Phoenix to heal Misato's injuries, and from there, once again explained what had happened to her, and why she had allowed herself to become part of Unit 01.

"You mean…that's what NERV is for? Killing the Angels, just to initiate Third Impact and kill us all?!" Misato raged in disbelief.

"I'm afraid it's true. SEELE, the organization backing the Instrumentality Committee, feels that humanity has reached an evolutionary dead-end, and wants to unite all souls into one within Lilith," Yui confirmed, feeling somewhat disquieted at the sheer amount of power flowing through her, which was only a portion of Phoenix's potential.

You spoke truly, Phoenix, Yui thought as she watched the conflicted faces of everyone present. The temptation of such power…if you had actually entered my body…

"Yes. Even outside of you, with buffers dampening our link, the emotions I feel in you tempt me in ways I never could have imagined," the primal entity confessed. "I feel…alive. More than I ever could have imagined…"

"I knew there were some nasty things going on at NERV, but, this…" Kaji muttered, shaking his head.

"It's all true, I'm afraid," Yui assured them. "That's why…I entered the Eva. To make it impossible for them to achieve their plans, and…" Stopping as she heard a noise drawing closer, Yui looked up into the sky, and frowned.

"What is that?!" Toji demanded, narrowing his eyes as he saw a helicopter approaching. As it drew closer, they saw Gendo Ikari looking out from its side, his face twisted in surprise.

"Rokubungi," Yui all but spat, hatred filling her eyes as Shinji edged closer to her, wrapping his arms about her waist. Looking down at the son her former husband had so willingly tormented, Yui placed her hand upon his head, stroking it reassuringly. "Its okay, Shinji. Everything's going to be okay now. I won't let him hurt you anymore."

"None of us will," Misato gritted, taking a protective stance in front of the mother and son.

"Misato?" Yui spoke up just before the helicopter landed. As the purple-haired woman looked over her shoulder, the avatar of Phoenix smiled warmly. "Thank you. Thank you for giving Shinji someplace to call home."

Smiling, the Major replied, "It wouldn't have been home without him."

There was no time to say anything else, for it was then that Gendo exited the helicopter before it had even touched the ground. As he started towards them, the disbelief in his face grew with every step he took. Completely unaware of the expressions of hatred he was confronted with, Gendo focused on the one thing; the woman who had been the heart of his obsession for over a decade. "Yui," he spoke, his eyes wide as he moved closer, his hands out to his sides, eager to embrace her.

Before he got within ten feet of Yui and Shinji, Misato moved to block his path. "That's far enough, sir," she informed him, disgust dripping from her voice.

Barely stopping in time, Gendo blinked a few times, as if wondering who this strange woman was. Then, with a voice as cold as the depths of space, he ordered, "Get out of my way, Katsuragi."

"Misato, please," Yui spoke gently, never losing the gentle sternness she projected. "We'll be alright." Misato looked back at the two of them for a moment before returning her attention to her commander. After considering the matter for a moment, she stepped aside, allowing Gendo to pass.

Satisfied that Misato would no longer be in his way, Gendo looked about at the rest of them, as if daring them to challenge his authority. As he did so, Yui stepped forward, moving between Gendo and Shinji.

"Yui," Gendo spoke, the softness of his voice at complete odds to the personality people associated with him. "I…I know I saw you coming out of Unit 01, but…even now…I can barely believe it!"

"Hello, Rokubungi," Yui countered, her features twisting with hatred.

"What?" Gendo got out, looking at the woman he loved in confusion. "What is it? What's happened to you? Why are you…?"

"Why am I acting this way?" Yui gathered. "Rokubungi, for ten years I have been trapped inside of Unit 01, watching helplessly as your plans for the world proceeded unchecked. Ten years which you spent destroying the lives of everyone around you, including our own son!"

"But…but, Yui, don't you understand?" Gendo protested, fear appearing in his words. "Everything I've done…it was for you! So we could be together again!"

"No, you did those things for yourself, to satisfy your own selfishness!" Yui declared, her voice one of barely-controlled rage and hatred. "I heard your voice, every day that you came to Unit 01, to brag about your brilliant plans for our future. Plans that had no room for our son, or any of the people anywhere in the world."

Gendo shrank back as Yui slowly advanced upon him, rage pouring from her eyes. "You arranged to slowly destroy Shinji's life, just to advance your own plans," she spoke. The light of the Phoenix expanded from Yui's body, coloring everything, showing images of the past, of Gendo's own sins. "That happy little boy…and look what you did to him! You did everything you could think of to make him want to die, to destroy everything that lived!" As the images of Shinji's tortured life ended, pictures of Misato's life took their place. "You were the one who gave Misato's father the order that resulted in Second Impact. And when she finally recovered from the hell she had lived through, you were there to shape her future, knowing that a woman who wanted nothing more than to kill the Angels would be perfect for your needs!"

"Rei…you shaped that poor girl's life, twisting it so that she would obey only you. She even died once for you, to advance your plans. Asuka…you arranged for her mother's accident, making sure that she would become a willing pawn to your plans." As images of the two female pilots appeared and vanished from the Phoenix-fire in turn, they shifted to those of Naoko and Ritsuko Akagi. "I saw how you used Naoko during the course of your affair with her. I saw…and didn't care. For as long as I had my son with me, I was happy, and determined to make sure that he remained happy as well. But then…I saw how you used her, broke her, drove her to kill herself, only to start doing the same to her daughter!" At last, Toji appeared in the flames. "And Toji, one of Shinji's few friends…you arranged for his death! You were hoping Shinji would kill him, just so you could bury our son in grief!"

"What?!" Toji squawked indignantly, even as the others looked about themselves.

"Yui, please…I did this…so we could be together!" Gendo pleaded, even as the light of Phoenix surrounded him.

"Sensei warned me about you," Yui growled hatefully. "And if it weren't for our son, I would wish that I had listened. As it is…I will make sure that you never hurt him or anyone else ever again!" At this, the fiery mantle of the Phoenix erupted from Yui, sending out its talons to grasp Gendo as she rose up, flying to Unit 01.

"Yui, no! What are you doing?!" Gendo screamed.

"You wish to live forever, as a bodiless soul?" Yui snarled as she hovered over the purple destroyer. "Then you will do so…but you will do so alone!!" With those words, she rammed Gendo into the armor of humanity's most feared creation, the power of Phoenix causing him to slowly melt away, merging with Unit 01. Even as Gendo struggled, the embryonic form of Adam on his hand was incinerated, leaving nothing of the dreaded 1st Angel behind.

"No, Yui, please! Don't do this to me!!" Gendo begged, but even as he did so…he realized it was too late. For in her eyes, he saw every evil he had committed, every cruelty that bore his name…and in that last moment, as he looked down at the person at he had wronged most, at his son, he realized just how truly irredeemable he had become.

"I'm sorry, Shinji…" Gendo gasped out before he finally disappeared into the Eva's core.

With the power of the Phoenix, Yui was able to fight in Shinji's stead, and the rest of the Angel War passed quickly. Though Toji and Kensuke often teased him about having his mother fight for him, Shinji didn't mind. His mother had returned, and he had begun to heal from everything Gendo had done to him.

Asuka, Rei, and Toji distinguished themselves in the final three battles against the Angels. It was decided that, with Adam gone, and Lilith soon to be dealt with, there was no need to seek out the 17th Angel, whom they knew had a human form. With the threat of Third Impact gone, they decided to let him live out his life in peace.

Fuyutsuki was overjoyed to see Yui again, and was glad to help her and Shinji in any way he could. Gendo was quickly declared dead, and his former sensei smoothed over the process of transferring the entirety of his estate to Shinji's control, along with the massive estate Gendo controlled. Once this was done, Shinji and Yui moved there, but they weren't alone in this. Misato and Asuka were invited to join them in living there, an invitation the two of them were glad to accept.

As for Rei, it had taken some time for the people around her to understand the truth of her origins, that she was a clone of Yui and Lilith, the 2nd Angel. However, Yui, Shinji, Misato, Asuka, Ritsuko, and Toji all agreed to keep this a secret amongst themselves. After all that Gendo had done to her, they decided that the 1st Child deserved a chance to live her own life. And after a time, Yui took the role Gendo had once filled, becoming as Rei's surrogate mother at which point she joined them in living in Gendo's former home.

It took some time for Misato to understand the hold Gendo had forged over Ritsuko, but with Gendo gone, the doctor was able to come to terms with the sins of her own past, and began to reconstruct her own life. With the help of the people around her, the doctor soon sought forgiveness for all the cruelties she had been a party to, forgiveness her friends gladly bestowed on her.

When the Angel War finally ended, Yui worked with Fuyutsuki to track down SEELE, and it wasn't long before they were executed for crimes against humanity. The power of the Phoenix was kept a secret as best as they could; given what had happened with the Angels, they didn't want any other cruel people tempted by the power of the Phoenix. A power that was used to deal with Lilith, in a way that no one could have ever envisioned…

"There, Phoenix," Yui smiled as she looked at the bird of fire, that hovered above Gendo's estate late one night, ready to return to the stars. Then she looked at the great silvery falcon that now hovered alongside it. "Now…you will have someone alongside of you in your journeys amongst the stars."

"Thank you, Yui Ikari," Phoenix responded, as close to emotion as Yui had ever heard it.

"Yes, thank you, kind woman," Lilith added, flapping her wings as she moved close to Phoenix. "Now, my children will no longer be tempted by the dangers of my power, and hopefully, will learn to live in peace."

"I hope so as well," Phoenix responded. Then, with something that almost looked like a smile playing about its avian face, it added, "However, we have the benefit of knowing that my avatar is watching over this world, should she be needed."

"Very true, Phoenix. Very true indeed," Lilith agreed.

"Are you sure you have to go?" Shinji wondered. "I mean, you've done so much for us, and…"

"I am sure," Phoenix replied. "For eons, I wandered the universe alone, feeling nothing at that which I had seen. Now, I wish to journey with someone at my side, experiencing the universe as you would." Looking at Yui, the Phoenix, possibly the most powerful being the universe had ever seen, bowed its head to her. "Yui Ikari, thanks to you, I am one step closer to understanding the universe we both live in. For this great gift, I can never thank you enough, and I shall never forget you."

"Nor I, you, Phoenix," Yui smiled, tears falling from her eyes. "The gifts you have given me are what saved my sanity, my world…and my children."

As Yui tightened her grip on the shoulders of both Shinji and Rei, the Phoenix nodded in agreement. "We have both come a very long way since we met, and I am certain that our paths will cross again. Until that day comes…farewell." With these words, the Phoenix rose up into the sky.

"Take care, my children," Lilith urged them before she followed Phoenix, the two great birds soon disappearing, becoming as of golden and silver stars in the heavens.

"Well, there they go," Misato noted as the two birds disappeared.

"To bad they had to leave," Ritsuko commented. "The things we could have learned from Phoenix! The primal source of life itself…!"

"I've already learned a great deal from it, Ritsuko," Yui smiled, kneeling down to tighten her grip on the children. "But I think that the most important lesson of them all is…you can live forever, have power over a thousand planets, and see everything the universe has to offer…but none of that means anything…unless you're happy."

Author's Notes: And so ends my first SOE one-shot featuring one of the mothers. Please, read and review. Hopefully, you'll check out my other stories as well.

I thought that Phoenix would be the perfect choice for Yui. That's the tricky thing about the mothers; I have to choose heroes that would allow for everything we see happen to them, and still have them able to come back and kick butt. Besides, given Unit 01's tendency to go berserk, I think I made a good choice.

Now, as for Phoenix's inability to fight without a host, that came from the fact that, in the comics I've read, the shows I watched, Phoenix never did anything unless it was through a physical form, rather a host or a body it created itself. Maybe that means it can't do anything without a host, and maybe it doesn't. I just decided to go with what worked for this story.

Still, I hope everyone enjoys.