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.

Chapter One: Divergence of Destiny/A Mother's Approval

Evangelion Unit One flew through the air over Tokyo-3.

Which, considering the sheer size of the purple war machine, was extremely impressive. Unfortunately, NERV had neither designed Unit One to fly, nor had they ever desired that it should do so. So, while the flight of Unit One was remarkable, it was a testament to the strength of the Fourth Angel, which had flung it, not anything NERV or the EVA's pilot had accomplished.

Of course, gravity being what it was, the flight of Unit One soon came to an end, and the purple behemoth crashed onto a small mountain, numerous trees being reduced to pulp under its enormous weight.

Inside the entry plug, the pilot of Unit One groaned, part of him dimly wondering if he was dead yet, even as he forced himself back to something resembling full consciousness. Shinji sat up…and his eyes widened when he took a look at his display. Two boys he had met just that day were cowering in the gap between two of Unit One's fingers.

Shinji felt his stomach plunge into feet. He didn't like either of the two guys, especially the one who had hit him earlier, but that certainly didn't mean he wanted them dead! The realization that his inept piloting had nearly killed two people left him feeling cold and sick to his stomach.

A shadow suddenly fell over Unit One, and Shinji looked upwards again to see the massive form of the Fourth Angel hovering over him, its energy whips writhing about like angered snakes. The glowing pink tentacles lashed out, and Shinji reflexively brought Unit One's hands up to meet them.

The Third Child held back a grunt as pain exploded in his own hands, thanks to the neural link he shared with the EVA. He dearly wished he could throw the thing off of his EVA and fight it, anything to stop the pain, but he knew he'd almost certainly crush the other two boys if he did that.

Shinji had no idea how he could hope to win and thus survive this if he didn't get up and fight. All he knew was that murdering human beings simply wasn't an option, so he'd have to endure this for as long as necessary.

"Shinji-kun!" Misato's voice came over his radio. "Let the two of them into the cockpit!"

"Huh?" Shinji gasped, shocked that she would allow such a thing.

What followed was some discussion between Misato and who he thought was Dr. Akagi. Shinji couldn't really tell; their voices were barely picked up by his radio, but it sounded like they were arguing. He didn't need to wonder about what.

"Hold EVA on the current commands and eject the entry plug!" Shinji heard Misato order after a few seconds. "Hurry!"

He nodded, and gave EVA the appropriate order before grabbing hold of a nearby lever and pulling it. Immediately, part of the armor on EVA's upper back opened and the entry plug emerged, sliding out almost three quarters of the way.

"You two! Get inside! Quickly!" Misato ordered over Unit One's external speakers while Shinji opened the entry plug's hatch and threw out a rope ladder.

Toji and Kensuke didn't need to be told twice, and both quickly scurried up the ladder to the relative safety of the entry plug. The two boys jumped in without taking a good look at its interior, and were both shocked to find it filled with liquid.

"What the hell? Water?!" Toji exclaimed.

"Ah! My camera!" Kensuke groaned.

Shinji didn't bother telling them that they could breathe the LCL, more because he was overwhelmed by everything that was happening than out of any kind of malice. The two other boys, seeing that Shinji was "breathing" the amber liquid and having little choice in the matter, eventually inhaled the LCL. They were both visibly surprised when they didn't start drowning.

The entry plug returned to its place inside EVA's back, the armor over it closing up again. A dizzying array of colors flashed over the walls of the entry plug before it again displayed the world outside.

Then static clouded the picture.

"It's due to the presence of two foreign bodies within the plug!" he heard Akagi shout.

Shinji ignored her, turning to look up at the Angel. Now free to fight the beast, he pulled on the whips of light, drawing the Angel near, then flung the beast off with all the strength he could muster. The Angel went flying off over Tokyo-3.

"Now! Retreat!" Misato commanded.

Shinji forced EVA Unit One back to its feet. He was barely aware of Misato and had all but completely forgotten that there were others with him. All he was aware of was the still lingering pain he felt in his own hands and the Angel. The monster that made all this insanity necessary.

"Recovery route 34, retreat to the east side of the mountain," Misato ordered.

Shinji didn't move, nor did he throw Unit One into motion. He didn't look up.

"New kid…she said 'retreat,'" Toji spoke up. "New kid?"

Shinji wasn't paying the least bit of attention to the jock. No, the Third Child's mind was focused upon something he had been told not long ago.

"I mustn't run away," he whispered to himself. "I mustn't run away. I mustn't run away."

With a thought from its pilot, Unit One's left shoulder pylon opened, revealing the progressive knife. The EVA grabbed hold of the weapon, and it came to life with a loud, menacing hum.

"Shinji-kun! Please, obey my command! Retreat!" Misato pleaded over the radio.

At the exact same instant, the countdown clock inside the cockpit indicating how much time remained until the EVA's internal battery died went below one minute. The cockpit was suddenly flooded with red light.

The two things occurring at the same moment was just enough to jolt Shinji out of the near fugue state he had somehow fallen into. The Third Child blinked…and the course of fate began to shift.

"H-Hai," Shinji stammered, returning the knife to its place inside Unit One's shoulder pylon.

Now he threw the EVA into motion, heading for the side of the mountain and the massive lift contained therein. Unit One entered it and several restraints immediately slammed down upon the EVA before gravity was allowed to do its work and bring the massive war machine back to NERV headquarters.

Unit One was allowed to more or less free fall down the lift shaft back to the EVA cage, a series of magnets slowing the lift down as it approached the bottom. Once the behemoth had been safely retrieved and secured, Shinji wasted no time in ejecting the plug, which was positioned next to a large catwalk made more embarking and disembarking from EVA.

"Get out, hurry!" Shinji shouted, opening the hatch on the plug.

Toji and Kensuke scurried out of the entry plug and onto the catwalk, both of them dripping with LCL. Shinji held back a sigh as he watched them go, wishing he could escape from EVA so easily.

The boy turned and the plug was reinserted just an instant before two huge Section Two Agents grabbed Toji and Kensuke and began to none too gently drag them off toward a confinement cell, one of them casually smashing the otaku's already ruined camera as they did so.

"What now, Misato?" Shinji asked over the radio.

"The Angel's tearing up the defense grid like nobody's business, so we're going to redeploy you immediately," Misato said.

Shinji could detect just a hint of apology in her professional tone, and at that moment he was exceedingly grateful her for it. No one else but her seemed to give a damn about how he felt, just so long as he kept piloting EVA, not even his father, but this woman he'd met only a few weeks ago cared.

With just her tone of voice, Misato very briefly slipped past all the defenses Shinji had built around himself. For the barest flicker of an instant, he loved her with his whole heart.

And, unbeknownst to everyone, including Shinji himself, the soul of Yui Ikari inside Unit One sensed that.

"I understand," Shinji said, totally unaware of what was transpiring inside the huge cyborg. "EVA Unit One, launch!"

The violet armored behemoth rocketed upwards with the familiar burst of electromagnetic energy, soon arriving on the surface. Shinji deployed his AT field, which instantly got the attention of the Fourth Angel.

"We've sent you another rifle," Misato said. "Take it!"

A small heads up display popped up on Shinji's screen, pointing him toward the provided firearm. Unit One headed toward it, moving into an artificial canyon created by towering skyscrapers and losing sight of the Angel. The faux building that contained the extra pallet rifle was in sight.

Though what good it's supposed to do, I don't know, Shinji thought morosely, recalling how the Angel had shrugged off the gunfire from his first pallet rifle.

He reached out with Unit One's hand to grab the gun…and the Angel suddenly appeared from around a corner, hovering right in front of him.

"Ahh!" he exclaimed, reflexively sending Unit One staggering backwards clumsily, nearly causing the violet titan to fall.

It must have gone around! He realized. It's faster than I thought!

It was the last thing he was able to think before the Angel's pink whips lashed out at Unit One. The cruel energy weapons plunged themselves directly into the EVA's chest, the ultra-dense armor which protected the war machine barely slowing the whips down.

Shinji screamed, feeling like he had been impaled by white hot metal wires. The Third Child clawed at his chest desperately, trying to pull out things which weren't there. All conscious thought had been lost to him; had he been filled with adrenaline and battle fury, he might have been able to ignore the attack and act with some semblence of sense, but this was not the case. Shinji's screams redoubled in volume and intensity as the pain reached a crescendo, and then blessed darkness finally claimed him.

While blissful oblivion claimed the Third Child, the command center in NERV erupted into chaos.

"The pilot's lost consciousness!" Makoto reported.

"The nerve pulses are flowing in reverse!" Maya added.

"Unit One is reactivating!" Aoba said.

"Berserker," Akagi breathed. "No! Not again!"

On the main screen, Unit One's dark eyes were suddenly aflame with an unholy white light. The restraints holding the behemoth's jaw shut shattered again, and it released an inhuman bellow of rage, grabbing hold of the energy whips which impaled it with one hand. If the EVA even registered the pain from its nearly destroyed hands, it didn't show any signs of it. Instead, the giant tugged fiercely on the whips, pulling the Angel toward itself. The EVA's free hand slammed into the approaching Angel's core with tremendous force, sending it flying backwards again.

The EVA pulled the energy whips again, drawing the Angel toward it once more. And once more Unit One's fist slammed into the Angel's red core.

"It's like some kind of demented game of paddle ball," Makoto said quietly as he stared at the main screen with wide eyes, watching as the EVA repeated this attack more than half a dozen times.

At last, Unit One ceased this tactic, releasing its hold on the energy whips. The Angel didn't fall to the ground, like most of the NERV staff in the command center had felt certain it would, but it did waver visibly, looking dazed.

The EVA didn't give it a chance to recover. Unit One grabbed hold of the stumpy appendages that the energy whips were attached to, the damage to its hands not hampering it in the least that anyone watching could tell, and pulled, releasing another bone chilling roar as it did so.

The Angel's strange limbs were cleanly ripped off its body, sending a shower of red blood down to the street below, the energy whips winking out of existence. The Fourth Angel released a high pitched chattering sound, like an insect in agony. Unit One dropped its foe's limbs to the ground, discarding them like so much rubbish. Both shattered the asphalt of the street upon impact.

The EVA grabbed hold of the Angel's "head" and slammed the beast into the street, totally destroying the pavement. Tremors, just powerful enough to be felt, rippled through the area, scaring the hell out of the people in the shelters throughout the city.

The Angel didn't move at all after this. It appeared to be dead, but Evangelion Unit One knew that it wasn't. However, the giant engine of death intended to rectify that, oh yes it did.

Growling, the EVA raised one of its legs, and then brought its huge foot down upon the Angel's core. Visible cracks spread over the surface of the red sphere, but Unit One didn't seem to notice. It howled, clearly enraged that the core hadn't already shattered. EVA brought its foot down on the core again and again, hammering it with ungodly amounts of force.

And finally the core broke. Shards the size of buses went flying through the air, many of them punching craters into the sides of nearby buildings. Within the safety of NERV headquarters, the MAGI reported that the blue pattern had vanished.

As she watched, Misato held her breath, expecting the Fourth Angel to explode just like the Third had. It did no such thing, however, and instead just continued to lay motionless on the ground. EVA Unit One slumped forward, the light in its eyes extinguishing as it fell silent.

Misato blinked, surprised that the very end of the battle proved so anticlimactic. Surprised, but not displeased.

"Unit One is deactivating," Aoba reported.

"The pilot's still unconscious, but his life signs are all stable," Makoto said. "He wasn't injured. It was probably just that the pain was too much for him."

"Retrieve Unit One immediately," Misato ordered. "I want Shinji out of there as soon as possible."

There was a chorus of acknowledgements all around.

"I'm going down to the cage," Misato said. "Ritsuko, take over for me, please."

She stepped onto a personal lift, which slowly began to descend. The captain sighed once she was off the bridge. For a moment there, Shinji had displayed behavior that could only be described as suicidal. He had seemed to be considering disobeying her order to make a tactical withdrawal in favor of an insane charge. It was almost as if he didn't care whether he lived or died.

That was a bad attitude for any soldier to have, let alone an Evangelion pilot. It could get him a lot of other people killed. She'd have to have a talk with him about this later, but for now, she just wanted to make sure he was all right.

Shinji, it turned out, was in a very similar state as he had been the last time NERV had removed him from EVA after a battle: unconscious but seemingly unharmed. The Third Child was taken down to NERV Medical, and after a quick check up, deposited in a bed in the ward.

Misato found herself sitting at his bedside. She knew that she should be in her office, doing the paperwork that was no doubt flooding her inbox at that very moment, but she couldn't bring herself to leave.

He looks so peaceful while he sleeps, Misato thought as she looked at his sleeping form. It's a shame he can't be like that when he's awake, too.

It just wasn't fair, she mused. No child should have to go to war, let alone bear the responsibility of protecting all of humanity while he was at it. Especially not a boy as gentle and clearly unsuited for combat as Shinji, but fate had deemed that he and he only could do the job.

Fate's a bitch, Misato decided, not for the first time.

Really, EVA should be piloted by a professional soldier. An adult who knew the risks that came with war and had enlisted into the military of their own free will.

Someone like me, Misato thought, also not for the first time.

Shinji stirred, pulling the Operations Director out of her thoughts. Misato, surprised that he was waking so soon, checked her wristwatch, only to realize that he'd been asleep for four hours. She had no idea so much time had passed.

The Third Child's eyes fluttered open, and he looked about in confusion until his gaze settled upon his guardian. "Misato?" he asked, his voice a croak. He seemed surprised to see her.

"Hey," Misato said softly. "How do you feel?"

"Tired," Shinji answered.

"You can go back to sleep," Misato said. "I'll come pick you up tomorrow morning."

Shinji shook his head, already forcing himself into motion as he sat up. "No, please, I'd rather go back to the apartment," he said. "Familiar ceiling there."

Misato frowned slightly at the odd comment but decided that if he wanted to sleep in his own futon, taking him back home was the least she could do.

"All right. Your clothes are over there," Misato said, hooking a thumb toward a chair where one of his neatly folded school uniforms lay. "Get dressed and we'll head back."

Shinji nodded and got out of bed, his movements stiff and lethargic. The Third Child made his way to the small stack of his clothing, before he realized that his guardian wasn't leaving. He turned to look at her, his cheeks reddening slightly.

"Uh, Misato…?" Shinji began awkwardly.

His guardian grinned impishly and considered reminding him that he didn't have anything she hadn't seen, not after the incident when he'd met Pen-Pen for the first time. However, after the day he'd had, she decided to give him a break.

"I'll wait outside," she said, quickly departing the room.

She went out into the hall, and a few minutes later, Shinji emerged, now clad in his school uniform. "Ready to go?" she asked cheerfully.

"I guess," Shinji replied, still sounding a bit out of it. "By the way, what happened to Toji and Kensuke?"

Misato frowned, realizing she hadn't given a thought to the two boys who'd hitched a ride inside Unit One since they'd gotten out of the EVA. "I'm sure they've been released by now," she said.

"Could you check before we go?" Shinji pleaded.

Misato held back a small sigh. Only Shinji would fret over two kids stupid enough to venture out of the shelter in the middle of an Angel attack, especially considering that one of them had slugged him earlier. But she supposed that was what made him Shinji; he was compassionate and forgiving, perhaps to a fault.

"All right," she agreed, taking out her cell phone and dialing the head of Section Two. "Hello, this is Captain Katsuragi. I want to know what happened to those two kids who were outside during the battle."

Her eyes widened as she listened to the man stammer out a reply. "Are you serious? It's been four hours!" she snapped, then let out a sigh as the man on the other end of the line spoke. "Fine, fine, I'll go get them myself."

Shinji gave her a questioning look and Misato sighed again. "Section Two just crammed them together into a solitary confinement cell and totally forgot about them. Come on, we're going to spring them."

The Third Child nodded and fell in step behind her as they headed for the detention area of headquarters.

The solitary confinement cell was a miserable place, meant to break a person's spirit through near complete sensory deprivation. It was pitch dark inside and was also sound proofed, insuring that the only noises heard inside were those that the prisoner (or prisoners, as matters stood at the moment) made himself.

Of course, with two people inside, the effects were somewhat reduced as they could keep each other company. Unfortunately, as it had been made for only one person, the cell was cramped with the two boys inside and quickly became hot and stuffy.

"Ken," Toji said solemnly, "we may be left in here to rot. Our fathers will demand to know where we are, but NERV will just shrug and that'll be that. People will find out that we went outside during the battle and figured we were killed, our bodies blown to itty-bitty pieces."

Kensuke gulped. "I guess that's possible."

"And since we might die here," Toji continued, "I figure it's best if we get everything that we need to off our chests. So, Kensuke, I want you to know…I freaking hate you. You and your need to see something awesome."

"Uh…noted," Kensuke said.

Toji was about to elaborate on just how much he hated Kensuke and his need to witness combat, the hours of sitting in the dark having momentarily brought out a heretofore undiscovered eloquence in the jock. However, he stopped abruptly when they heard the sound of the large tumblers in the thick cell door turning.

They turned to look in the direction of the door just in time to be blinded as it was opened and light poured into their cell. The two boys groaned, shielding their eyes.

"Are you two okay?"

Toji forced himself to look at the source of the voice, squinting considerably. "Ikari?"

"Yes, it's me," Shinji answered. "Are you guys all right? They didn't…hurt you or anything, did they?"

"Nah, they just threw us in here," Kensuke replied. "How long has it been, anyway? Ten, twelve hours?"

"Actually," a new voice, this one distinctly feminine, spoke up in a dry tone, "it's only been four hours. But it could've been much longer, if Shinji-kun hadn't asked about you two. You should be grateful. He was the only one who didn't forget about you and bothered to ask what happened to you."

Toji suddenly felt a wave of guilt wash over him. The kid he'd punched had not only saved his life earlier, but he'd also busted them out of jail. At the moment, he almost wished that Shinji had just left them to rot. Then he wouldn't feel like such a huge jerk.

"Thanks, Ikari," Toji said, bowing formally. "You're all right."

Shinji blinked, then smiled.

"Yeah, thanks a lot," Kensuke echoed his friend's sentiment.

"When your eyes have adjusted enough to the light, we'll get out of here," the woman said again.

Toji and Kensuke nodded, their desire to escape as soon as possible driving them to squint less and less to speed up the process, despite the way it made their eyes water. Finally, the two thought they were good enough to go and wiped the tears from their eyes.

And finally got a good look at Misato. Their jaws dropped as they took in the purple haired babe standing behind Shinji.

Then they both snapped to attention before bowing deeply to her. "Excuse our rudeness, we haven't introduced ourselves," Toji said, a bit louder than was strictly necessary. "I'm Toji Suzuhara."

"And I'm Kensuke Aida!"

Misato smiled wryly. "Yes, I know," she said, just the tiniest seductive lilt in her voice. "Nice to meet you. I'm Misato Katsuragi, Operations Director here at NERV and Shinji-kun's guardian."

The two boys gave the Third Child a stupefied look. Shinji was still too dazed and drowsy to notice.

"Well, come along then," Misato said cheerfully. "I've already arranged for a car to take you home."

Misato led the trio of boys, two of them staring unrepentantly at her legs and rear, to the parking deck. Toji and Kensuke looked longingly at Misato's blue sports car as she and Shinji got into it, the two boys climbing into a marked NERV van.

Once Misato got back to the apartment, Shinji went directly to his "lovely suite" and practically collapsed on his futon, falling asleep again almost instantly. Misato shook her head and headed into the kitchen.

What difference does it make whether he's here or at the medical ward in headquarters if he's just going to konk out? Misato wondered.


Smiling, the mistress of the house bent down and patted her unconventional pet on the head. Pen-Pen made a pleased cooing sound in response.

"Hungry?" Misato asked.


"Okay, boy, I'll get you something to eat," she said.

Misato opened a can of sardines and placed them in his bowl, then cracked open a beer and put it on the floor for him. The warm water penguin immediately guzzled the Yebisu, downing it one gulp, which was a fairly impressive feat, even for the booze loving bird.

Maybe Shinji's been trying to wean him off beer, Misato mused as Pen-Pen let out a very satisfied sounding belch. It does seem like the sort of thing he'd do. The boy's too much of a prude for his own good...

Once was finished with his ration of alcohol, Pen-Pen turned to look up at Misato, displaying a notable reluctance to dig into the sardines.

"No, I will not marinate them for you," Misato scowled. "I swear, Shinji-kun is really spoiling you."


Misato sighed as Pen-Pen slowly began to eat, glancing up at the clock. Since the Angel of the Morning had attacked in, well, the morning, it was only late afternoon at this point.

"Think I should head back to base and get some work done?" she asked.


The purple haired woman scowled. "You're just playing the part of my conscience because I didn't make your stupid fish all fancy, aren't you?"


"Yeah, I thought so," Misato grumbled. "Still, you're right. I can practically feel the damn reports piling up on my desk. All right, I'll be back later tonight. Tell Shinji-kun where I went if he wakes up."


Reluctantly, Misato made her way back to NERV headquarters and then to her office, where there were indeed stacks of paperwork already waiting for her.

God, I hate this crap, she thought as she sat down and got to work. Why do I put up with this job? The pay's awful, and most of the time I'm a glorified pencil pusher.

Of course, she knew the answer to that: being the Operations Director was the most she could do to take her revenge on the Angels. Still, she liked to the ask the question with righteous indignation whenever she was confronted with paperwork.

Let's see now, reports on munitions expenditures…

Two hours later, Misato was wishing she'd just spent the rest of her day at home, and not just because her brain was starting to go numb. She had barely gotten any work done, mostly because her mind kept wandering.

She just couldn't stop thinking about Shinji, specifically about how unsuited he was to pilot EVA and what she was going to say to him tomorrow about his near insubordination.

The Operations Director had had to deal with subordinates with bad attitudes before, of course, but her standard rebuke for them usually involved the phrase "You enlisted for this," in there somewhere. Since Shinji had agreed to pilot EVA under extreme duress, she wasn't sure what to say to him.

It was difficult for her to fault him for being less than enthusiastic about his new status, but at the same time, if he didn't get with the program, he could get himself killed and everyone else with him.

Maybe I should just tell him to leave and see if NERV can't find another pilot, she thought. That seems a little extreme, though. It's not like he actually did try a suicidal charge.

It was at this point that Misato looked down at her desk and realized that she'd been staring at the same report for about twenty minutes without having read a word of it.

"Oh, I give up," Misato growled, exasperated.

The Ops Director picked up her red jacket and pulled it on, heading out of her office in a huff. She knew that, come tomorrow, she'd be regretting not forcing herself to put an appreciable dent into her work, but at the moment she just didn't care and went stalking through the halls of NERV, heading for her car.

Unfortunately, she still didn't quite have the layout of the base firmly memorized and took a wrong turn. So instead of arriving at the parking deck, she instead came out in one of the EVA cages. The EVA cage where Unit One was currently berthed, in fact.

Technicians, engineers, and other assorted maintenance personnel were crawling all over the sleeping giant, working feverishly to get it back into fighting shape in time for the next Angel. Most of the damage was on the hands, however, so the catwalk that allowed access to the entry plug was abandoned.

Feeling unusually contemplative, Misato walked onto the catwalk and over to the plug, which was three quarters out of the EVA.

I wonder what it's like, she thought. To sit in the cockpit and be able to fight those monsters. To have such incredible power at your fingertips.

Being a soldier, Misato had been in combat before. However, there was no question in her mind that fighting the Angels in an EVA was quite unlike anything she'd experienced in her career with the military.

The plug's hatch was opened, and Misato noticed that the white, A-10 connector clips sat on the command seat. She arched an eyebrow, suddenly curious as to what it felt like to wear those things.

She sighed slightly, knowing that this would bug her for months if she didn't do it and satisfy this impulse. Taking a quick glance around to ensure that no one was looking her way, the Ops Director picked up the A-10 clips and carefully climbed inside the plug. It was a tight fit, and the chair was a bit too small for her, thanks to the plug having been designed to accommodate young teenagers rather than adults.

Ignoring the discomfort, she placed the A-10 clips in her hair, then gripped the controls. She knew they were just mockups there to help the pilots focus their thoughts, so she pushed them forward, imagining that the currently opaque plug wall was showing her charging toward one of the monsters that had killed her father.

That was when the hatch suddenly slammed shut.

Misato's eyes widened and she let out a yelp of surprise and fear as she felt the plug descend fully into the cavity in Unit One's body. Her heart hammering, the Operations Director reached up to the hatch and frantically pulled on the handles to open it, but it remained stubbornly shut.

A crazed whirl of colors appeared on the plug walls, and Misato really began to panic, realizing that things were actually starting to activate.

She didn't want to be inside the EVA while it was activating. She had tried to become a pilot when she'd first joined NERV, only to be told in no uncertain terms that Very Bad Things would happen if an adult tried to link with EVA.

"Turn this thing off!" she shouted, hoping that one of the techs she'd been avoiding only moments earlier would now realize she was there. "Get me out of here!"

For several terrifying seconds, nothing happened. Colors continued to swirl about in a psychedelic display, and for all Misato knew, no one even had a clue she was in the plug or that anything strange was going on with Unit One at all.

She began pounding her fists against the plug hatch, despite knowing that she couldn't hope to so much as dent the reinforced steel.

Then everything suddenly stopped and the plug was plunged into complete darkness. Misato felt it moving, and quickly pulled the A-10 clips out of her hair, dropping them on the floor a second before the hatch opened.

"Captain Katsuragi?" a very surprised looking tech said, peering into the plug.

"As you were," she told the confused young man, climbing out of the plug. She tried to sound as dignified and authoritative as she could, despite how shaken she felt.

"Are you…all right?" the technician asked.

It was obvious that he really wanted to ask what she'd been doing inside the entry plug but didn't have the nerve to pose that question to his superior officer. Misato felt very grateful for this.

"Fine," Misato replied. "Just fine. I was just…trying to get to my car and got a little turned around."

And ended up inside Unit One? They both thought, one cringing slightly, the other incredulous.

"Should I, uh, call the medical ward?" the tech asked.

"No," Misato said, a little more sharply than she'd intended. "No, that won't be necessary. I'll just be leaving now."

The technician didn't want to let her just walk off after what had happened, but he had no way of making her stop. Both commanders had gone home for the night, so Misato was the highest ranking person on the base.

So the Operations Director headed home, totally unaware of the fact that the soul in Unit One had looked into her mind through the neural connector clips, completely oblivious to the fact that she'd been judged and found worthy, and fully ignorant of what had been done to her.

It was late evening by the time Misato returned to her apartment, and she found her home dark when she stepped across the threshold. Shinji was apparently still asleep, and Pen-Pen was presumably inside his fridge.

Feeling lonely, Misato popped some instant noodles in her microwave and got herself a beer. The little incident with Unit One had mostly left her mind, and she was once more brooding about what she was going to say to Shinji.

God, I don't want to have to confront Shinji about his near insubordination tomorrow, but I have to. This sucks, she thought.

There was, Misato reasoned, no point in thinking about it now. But the thought refused to leave her mind, so once she'd eaten her noodles, she did what she usually did when she wanted to stop thinking for a while.

Two hours later, Misato fell asleep at the kitchen table, empty beer cans scattered around her.

Author's Notes: Well, here we are, at the start of my second fan fic. Hopefully you'll excuse the rather lame title.

For those of you who don't know, this is essentially a rewrite of gunman's "Misato's Second Childhood." Gunman was kind enough to give me permission for this, despite the fact that his fic isn't dead as I had originally assumed. So an extra special thanks to him.

Anyway, the plan here it to take roughly the same setup from that fic, but start things off much earlier in the timeline and then go off in a different direction. In other words, this'll start off a lot like "Misato's Second Childhood" but the resemblance will fade after the first few chapters.

By the way, if you're wondering about the double chapter title, it's because I'm trying to follow the format of the anime a bit more closely, and I guess it's also something of a tribute to EVA-R, which did the same thing. I was actually considering doing chapter previews by Misato, complete with promises of fan service, like in the anime. Let me know if you think that would be fun or just over the top.

Anyway, thanks to my readers and reviewers. Now let's have some fun!


Cabin Fever


As Much Yaoi as You Will Ever Get From Me

"Ken," Toji said solemnly, "we may be left in here to rot. Our fathers will demand to know where we are, but NERV will just shrug and that'll be that. People will find out that we got outside during the battle and figured we were killed, our bodies blown to itty-bitty pieces."

Kensuke gulped. "I guess that's possible."

"And since we might die here," Toji continued, "I figure it's best if we get everything that we need to off our chests. So, Kensuke, I want you to know…I love you."

"Wh-what?!" Kensuke sputtered.

"Oh, those glasses just drive me wild!"

"Ah!" Kensuke shrieked like a little girl, trying his best to avoid Toji in the dark, cramped cell. "Damn it, Toji! Stop! You're just going stir crazy! You like chicks!"

"Don't deny our love, Ken-chan!" Toji exclaimed, finally getting a hold of Kensuke and starting to unbutton his shirt.

That was when the door was opened, light flooding into the cell.

"What the hell is going on here?!" Misato demanded.

For comedic purposes, Toji and Kensuke's eyes had no difficulty adapting to the light after spending hours in darkness.

"Woah," Kensuke breathed as he took in the sight of the curvy Ops Director.

"Well...I'm straight again," Toji declared.

"Thank kami," Kensuke muttered, buttoning his shirt.

Misato laughed, obviously pleased at the reactions from the two teens. "Well, it looks like Misato-sama has still got it!"

With that proclamation, she placed her hands on her hips, threw her chest out, and then shook her head, causing her purple locks to fly about dramatically.

Toji and Kensuke responded to this display by fainting dead away, twin trails of blood coming from their nostrils as they lay on the floor.

"That's my guardian," Shinji said proudly.