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.

Epilogue: Settling Accounts/The True Adventure

"Now boarding: flight 23 from Tokyo-2 to Beijing. Flight 23 from Tokyo-2 to Beijing, now boarding."

Asuka sighed, getting to her feet and picking up here carry on bag. "Well, I guess this is it," she said. "The first leg of my trip back to Germany."

"Yeah," Misao said, while Shinji nodded.

There was a moment of awkward silence as the other passengers in the terminal began to board the plane. Only at the best of times could the two of them called Asuka a friend, and ever since the final battle of Tokyo-3, they hadn't quite been sure what to expect from the redhead. She'd been much more mellow in general but had reacted violently to the suggestion that the EVA's might be dismantled, not calming down entirely until she discovered that the UN only intended to put NERV's EVA Units into indefinite cryo-freeze "in preparation for any future threats of similar magnitude as the Angels."

Yet neither Shinji nor Misao could deny that a bond had formed with the Second Child, thanks to being comrades in arms with her in such a crazy war. A war that they were realizing was even crazier than they'd originally believed as Gendo's and SEELE's private files began to see the light of day.

"Look," Asuka sighed, "I know I gave you both a lot of crap you didn't deserve. I…I'm sorry. Tell Ayanami I'm sorry, too, if she wakes up."

Misao nodded and hugged the redhead. "What will you do now?" she asked.

"Pursue my doctorate, I guess," Asuka answered. "I'll find some excuse to come visit some time. I might not be heading back to Germany at all, if my parents weren't shrieking at me to come back." She added, rolling her eyes.

Misao released her hold on Asuka. "Well, you'd better go if you don't want to miss your plane," she said.

Asuka nodded. "Well, bye, you two. Good luck."

With that, the redhead turned and slipped into the throng of passengers, disappearing a moment later.

"Well," Shinji said to Misao, "I guess that's that."

He offered his arm to Misao, which she took, and they began to make their way out of the Tokyo-2 airport, silent.

Both of them were only too eager to close the current chapter in their lives and become more-or-less normal teenagers. The UN had, in return for vows of silence on how close the world had come to ending, agreed to provide each of them with a very healthy pension for the rest of their lives. They had gotten themselves legally emancipated by the courts, again with the aid of their new "friends" in high places, so they didn't need to worry about having a guardian any longer. They had even found a nice apartment in Tokyo-2, moved into it, and gotten Pen-Pen back from the Horaki family. So there was nothing holding them back from continuing onto the next phase of their lives together.

Nothing, save for a blue haired girl who had been unconscious for the three weeks since the invasion of NERV had been turned back.

The couple boarded a waiting NERV car and asked the driver to take them to Tokyo-2 Memorial Hospital.

Ever since the JSSDF had attacked, NERV had been in chaos, and the withdrawal of the invaders hadn't seen a decrease in the disorder. If anything, things had only gotten worse in the immediate aftermath.

Fortunately, NERV's new commander, promoted to that rank only a few days ago by the Secruity Council, had been a veritable bastion of calm leadership in the tumultuous days that had followed the invasion.

Of course, even the most glorious of leaders can grow weary, and Commander Maya Ibuki proved she was no exception as she allowed herself to slump in her new chair in the command center.

"Status report," she ordered.

"The repairs to Unit Two have been completed, and cryo-freezing is scheduled to commence within the hour," Aoba said.

"The removal of the bakelite from the corridors is on schedule," Makoto said. "They're finding a lot more bodies encased in there than they expected, though."

Maya's face twisted into a grimace. "Tell them to keep at it and to try and avoid damaging the bodies as much as possible," she said. "I'd like to be able to send them to their families more or less intact."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Dr. Akagi has reported that the UN inspectors are finished with her and Tech Division One for day and have all left the base," Sakura added.

Maya arched an eyebrow. "I see," she said, getting up from her chair. "Hyuga, you have the bridge."

"Yes, ma'am," Makoto said, even as a smirking Aoba began to elbow him playfully, until a glare from Sakura stopped him.

Maya wordlessly got onto a personal lift that took her away from the command center, and was soon making her way to Ritsuko's office.

The blond scientist hadn't allowed her to speak her piece, even when they'd been stuck inside the EVA cage after Unit Zero and Rei had departed for battle. Ritsuko had focused on using the computers inside to try and follow the course of the JSSDF and impede them, to the exclusion of all else, even though she must have known she wouldn't be able to do much.

After they'd finally been released from the EVA cage, there was more than enough for both of them to do to keep them away from each other. Still, Maya couldn't help but feel snubbed, and she intended to find out what her former mentor thought of her, now that she had a few spare moments.

She was soon standing outside the door to Ritsuko's office and felt her courage starting to erode. Taking a deep breath, Maya knocked on the door before her determination could abandon her entirely.

"Come in."

Maya slid open the door and entered. "Hello, Ritsuko," she said nervously, shutting the door behind her.

The bottle blonde looked up from whatever document she was reading, saw who it was, and quickly stood up. "Hello, Commander," she said with a teasing, if slightly brittle smile.

Maya groaned. "Didn't we discuss this the last time I got a promotion?" she asked, going along with the joke because she wasn't entirely sure what else to do.

It was strange, feeling so awkward around Ritsuko.

"True, but I couldn't resist," Ritsuko said. "Honestly, I'm kind of surprised that you took the job. I was half expecting you to bolt from NERV now that the war's over."

Maya shrugged. "With Fuyutski gone, who else was there to take the job?" she asked.

The Vice Commander had bolted almost immediately after the invasion was thwarted and was now god-knew-where. He was a wanted man, but Maya doubted that anyone would go very far out of their way to find one old man who had more or less been dragged into the schemes for Instrumentality by Gendo. Especially not when the twelve members of SEELE were still at large.

"Besides, I didn't want to leave everyone at the mercy of whoever the government decided to appoint to the position," Maya continued. "And anyway, once things really settle down, it should be a pretty sedate post, now that the war's over."

"I guess you're right," Ritsuko said.

An uncomfortable silence fell.

"Ritsuko-chan," Maya blurted out, "there's still something I need to tell you."

Ritsuko smiled bitterly and looked down, unable to meet Maya's eyes. "I'm surprised you still want to tell me that, after everything you've learned about me," she said. "Everything I've been a party to…I'd be rotting in jail right now, if I hadn't handed over all the information I have on Instrumentality and SEELE to the UN in exchange for my freedom, and rightfully so."

"Ritsuko-chan," Maya said, "I don't care that you did all that, because in the end, you were willing to do whatever it took to make things right. I don't think that makes you a bad person. I think that makes you a good person who just made some bad mistakes. I…I still love you."

Ritsuko was quiet for a long time, a near eternity from Maya's perspective. Finally, she looked up, her green eyes looking rather liquid.

"Maya…" she said slowly. "I never really thought about pursuing a relationship like that…with a woman, I mean."

The petite brunette felt her heart sinking. Maya had always known that the possibility existed that Ritsuko only liked men, but it was shockingly painful to find her deepest desires thwarted by something that seemed, to her, to be so small a concern.

"I…I see," Maya said, suddenly on the verge of tears but not wanting Ritsuko to see how upset she was. She looked away. "In that case, I guess you should probably try and forget I ever…"

She trailed off when Ritsuko gently cupped her cheek and turned her head so Maya was looking her in the eyes.

"I never thought about pursuing a romantic relationship with a woman," Ritsuko said. "But the idea doesn't repulse me, either. And I think if anybody deserves a chance, it's you. Nobody else has ever cared about me as much as you have, that's for sure."

Maya smiled brilliantly at her former mentor. "So," she said, "how about a date, then? Say dinner and a drink this Friday?"

Ritsuko smiled back. "I think that would be a good start," she said. "I only wish I could give you more. You certainly deserve it."

"It's all right," Maya said. "I'm glad you were honest with me."

Then, feeling unusually bold, Maya quickly went up on her tiptoes, gave the blonde a quick peck on the lips, and then quickly departed.

"Until Friday," she said, already halfway out the door.

Ritsuko slowly sat down in her office chair, feeling rather stunned.

It wasn't until several moments had gone by that she realized she was blushing and had a rather silly grin plastered on her face.

The voices were the first thing that she became aware of.

Not that she recognized them as voice at first. In the beginning, they were just formless, incoherent blobs of sound that came and went randomly from the complete blackness that was her universe.

Slowly, however, the sounds began to become recognizable as words to her, and the words gradually came together to form sentences.

She couldn't identify the people who spoke near her, but from what they said, it seemed like they wanted her to awaken.

This confused her. The time for her to fulfill her purpose had come and gone, and she had failed to do so. There was nothing left for her in the world of the living. Why would anyone want her?

It was another week before she realized that the voices that came and went were those of her friends, and she remembered that there might still be something for her in the waking world.

"Ohayo, Rei," Shinji greeted as he and Misao walked into Ayanami's hospital room.

Rei, as usual, didn't respond.

It had been almost a month now since Third Impact had been averted, and there had been no change in Rei's condition. Shinji and Misao were starting to discuss the possibility that they'd have to stop holding a vigil over their friend and move on with their lives soon.

They were both loathe to do that, feeling like it would be abandoning Rei, who had saved them on that terrible day. However, they knew that they couldn't put their lives on hold forever.

"Things are actually more or less normal by now," Misao said to Rei, as she and Shinji sat down in chairs next to the First Child's bed. "The attack on the Geofront and the aftermath of it aren't the only things you see when you turn on the news. We've even heard that people are starting to move back to Tokyo-3."

"Yeah," Shinji added. "The government doesn't want to go to the expense of building a new base to store the Evangelions, and Lilith, I guess. And having such a big military base is bringing people back to the city. It'll probably never be like it was before, though, and we have no plans to go back."

"Oh, and they caught the French member of the Human Instrumentality Committee yesterday," Misao said. "They caught him in Paris, trying to board a plane to Buenos Aires-Dos."

"That is good to hear," Rei replied, her voice a croak.

Shinji and Misao were dead silent for a moment, then suddenly both exclaimed, "Rei!" and leapt to their feet, smiling down at the First Child.

"You're awake!" Misao said jubilantly.

"How do you feel?" Shinji asked.

"Weak," Rei answered, "but otherwise fine. What happened to me?"

"You had a seizure in the middle of the battle," Misao answered. "After it was over, me and Shinji got your entry plug out of your EVA and ran all the way to the edge of Tokyo-2 in Unit One. Then we got you to this hospital."

"For a while, the doctors said it looked like we were going to lose you," Shinji said, picking up the tale. "Then we were finally able to get in touch with Dr. Akagi, and she came and looked you over herself. Your S2 organ reacted badly to the drug my father gave you. Akagi-san said it was on the verge of rupturing by the time she got here. She had to remove it to save you."

Rei's eyes widened slightly at this news. "I see. So…"

"You're effectively human now," Misao said with a smile.

Rei leaned back on her pillows as she contemplated this. It wouldn't change her life very much, since she had so rarely used her Angelic abilities anyway. All the same, it seemed very strange to her, to view herself as entirely human.

"I…thank you, for visiting with me while I recovered," Rei said. "Tell me, did my apartment building survive the attack on Tokyo-3?"

Shinji and Misao exchanged a puzzled glance.

"No, Rei, it didn't," Shinji said.

"I see," Rei said, expertly hiding the dismay she felt at this information.

With Gendo dead, Rei felt very alone in the world. The man had guided her entire life and been the only parental figure she'd ever known, even if he'd done and been as much for less than altruistic reasons. She didn't have a single yen to her name, had no idea what to do with her newfound freedom, and now she had no home, as well.

Perhaps I should have remained unconscious, she thought.

"Do you believe that NERV will allow me to stay in the barracks?" Rei asked in a small voice.

Her friends gaped at her for a second.

"Are you nuts, Rei?" Misao asked. "We're not going to let you live down in the Geofront! You're going to live with us! Shin-chan and me made sure to get an apartment with a second bedroom just so we'd have room for you."

Rei blinked. "I'm going to live with you?"

Shinji nodded. "We could never just leave you to fend for yourself, especially not after we found out how my father treated you. Besides, apparently we're sort of related. I can't just abandon my only living family."

Shinji and Misao traded a look that was both amused and rueful, knowing that even with Asuka back in Germany, they still weren't going to get an apartment with just the two of them. But that was okay. They'd much rather see Rei happy and provided for than have the increased privacy they'd been craving.

Rei didn't notice this, however, because her vision was starting to become strangely blurry. "Arigato," she said, finding her voice thick. She had the most curious sensation in her throat, as though some kind of lump had formed in it.

My god, is Rei Ayanami actually getting choked up? Misao thought, scarcely able to believe her eyes.

Shinji smiled. "Well, I'm going to get the doctor. Hopefully, Rei can check out soon. Then we'll have to find a good sushi place."

"Sushi?" Rei asked, clearly confused.

"Rei, we won the whole damn war," Shinji said, looking amused. "We have to go out and celebrate this one!"

Somewhere in Germany…

Colonel von Elsing stared darkly at the great, imposing structure which stood in the distance. How Keel had managed to build such a fortress in secret and then hack into the various satellites which looked down upon this part of the world so they wouldn't show it baffled him. Just transporting all the necessary materials to this middle of nowhere location should have garnered ample attention, but somehow it hadn't.

Then again, Keel and his partners in crime had done far more staggering things, so perhaps he shouldn't be surprised. Still, it annoyed him that someone could so deftly hide from the German military and government within the borders of the fatherland itself. If not for the man in Keel's employ who'd decided he wanted to claim the bounty on the cyborg's head, they still might have no idea where the crazy bastard was.


The colonel looked away from the fortress, seeing that the small team of men he'd sent out on a reconnaissance mission to scout the place had returned.

"Glad to see you back," von Elsing said. "Your report?"

The squad leader stepped forward. "Sir, the place is insanely well defended. There's a small army of mercs armed with automatic weapons, electric fences, pill boxes, and even AA and anti-tank guns."

The colonel nodded. "I see. Thank you, gentlemen, you're dismissed."

The men saluted and then departed. Colonel von Elsing left his command tent, off in search of the technical wizard that had accompanied his small but potent force. It wasn't long before he found the man, looking over one of the Jeeps they'd come in.

"Lieutenant Kappel," von Elsing spoke.

The man leapt to attention immediately upon hearing his CO's voice. "Sir!"

"At ease," von Elsing said. "I have been advised that Keel's stronghold is extremely well defended. Therefore, I intend to employ the Pinch."

"Sir?" Kappel said, surprised.

The Pinch was a new addition to the German military's arsenal. It was a device capable of releasing the kind of electromagnetic pulse that resulted from air detonating an atomic bomb, without creating the nuclear explosion. The EMP played merry hell with electronics, but it was perfectly harmless to humans.

Cyborgs, on the other hand…

"Keel's forces are armed to the teeth, Lieutenant," von Elsing said. "I am not going to let my men die just so we can take that bastard in alive. Do I make myself clear?"

"As crystal, sir," Kappel said at once. "I can have the Pinch ready in about an hour."

"Make it so, then," von Elsing commanded.

That day, Keel Lorenz, former chairman of the Human Instrumentality Committee and the leader of the secret organization SEELE, died a very inglorious death, and the world was much better off for it.

Ten years later

Tokyo-2 Municipal Junior High School

"All right, class, now for homework, I want you all to read over chapter three of your texts and do the questions at the end of the chapter," the Sensei said. "Other than that, enjoy the weekend! And somebody please do something to feed the rumor mill! It's been getting too dull around here!"

The class either pledged to do the homework or laughed at the joke. Or at least, the male half of the class did. The female half just sort of rolled their eyes at usual display of excessive enthusiasm from the boys. Honestly, so far as the girls were concerned, the only thing more pathetic was the way the boys actually seemed to believe the wild rumors that Sensei had piloted an EVA during the Angel Wars.

The students gathered their things and filed out of the classroom, then left the school building. Not long afterwards, their Sensei also strode out into the schoolyard.

"Bye, Misao-sama!" the male students who were still around chorused, invoking another round of eye rolling from their female counterparts.

Really, it was rather hard to fault the group of teenage boys for their adoration. Misao was the spitting image of her "cousin" at this age, except that she was slightly more trim and fit because her diet didn't consist of beer and instant foods (said cousin had, according to official records, died in a tragic freak accident just before the Chinese branch of NERV had been shut down).

"Bye, guys!" Misao responded cheerfully, just before she climbed into her Renault Alpine and drove off with a roar of the engine.

After a brief (but very fast paced) drive, the young school teacher was pulling into the driveway of her home.

"I'm home!" she called as she walked in.

No answer came. Misao frowned slightly, then gave a mental shrug and sat down at the kitchen table to grade papers. It wasn't long before she heard the door opening again.

"I'm home!" Shinji called.

Misao got up and left the kitchen to greet him. "Welcome home, anata," she said, then her grin turned sly and she put her hands on her hips. "So, where have you been?"

He smiled playfully back at her. "Oh, I was out picking up a girl. I was thinking she could stay here."

He gestured down to a cute girl of no more than three years who stood next to him. She had long purple hair and dark blue eyes.

Misao squatted down and appraised the little girl with a critical eye. "Hmm…well, I guess it's okay," she said at last. "She doesn't look like she eats much."

The little girl giggled. "You're silly, Mommy!"

Laughing, Misao stood back up to her full height, picking up her daughter as she did so and hugging her. "Of course I am!" she said. "Where do you think you get it from, Miko-chan?"

Miko just laughed in response, and Misao felt her grin widening. "Go play with Daddy for a little while," she said, setting her down. "I have papers to grade."

"Okay," Miko said cheerfully. "Daddy said he'd let me help him cook dinner tonight!"

"Really? Well, be careful, you two," Misao said, silently wondering if Miko had inherited her husband's culinary skills or her own total lack of them.

"We will be," Shinji vowed, taking Miko's hand and leading her off.

A few hours later, the small family sat down to a dinner which had not been destroyed by the participation of the little girl in the cooking process. Not that Shinji had let her do much besides stir the miso, of course, but Misao still felt it was quite the accomplishment, if only because she was sure that she would have found a way to botch the job at three years old.

"Asuka called earlier today," Shinji said as they ate. "She's coming to Japan for some symposium or something in a couple of weeks, and she was wondering if we could get the old gang together for a night while she's here."

Misao smiled. "It sounds like fun. I'll make some calls tomorrow and see who can make it."

"Can I stay with Aunt Rei when you go out?" Miko asked eagerly.

"Rei's probably going to come with us when we go," Misao said. "So will Toji and Hikari."

"Oh," Miko said, clearly disappointed. "Well, please, could you find someone besides the cat lady to baby sit me?"

The "cat lady" actually wasn't Ritsuko, but an elderly neighbor of theirs who owned enough felines to put the scientist to shame. Miko said that staying with her was incredibly boring, and neither Shinji nor Misao found that very difficult to believe.

"We'll do what we can," Shinji promised, and Miko nodded, not entirely satisfied but knowing this was the best she would get.

"So how was preschool today, Miko-chan?" Misao asked, changing the subject.

"Today, Natsumi said that her little baby sister Aki was born last night!" Miko exclaimed in a great rush, with the air of someone who had been waiting for far too long to share her news. "Natsumi said that Aki's really, really tiny and really, really cute! And now I want a little baby sister, too!"

"Do you really?" Misao asked with a smile, to which Miko nodded vigorously.

Misao turned to her husband and gave him a rather naughty smile, a very distinct glint in her eyes. Shinji felt his heartbeat begin to accelerate and silently marveled that Misao could so effortlessly have this effect on him, even after spending a decade together and having a child.

"I'll tell you what, Miko-chan," Misao said, not taking her gaze off of Shinji. "We'll see what we can do."

"Yay!" Miko cheered.

Shinji just smiled back at Misao and wondered, as he had many, many times over the course of the previous ten years, just how he'd gotten so lucky.

Author's Notes: And so, we finally have reached the end of Altered Destinies. There's not much to say about this epilogue, as it's really just handing out rewards and punishments to our heroes and remaining villains. All the same, I hope you enjoyed it.

Reader Kai, the idea to have Rei kick so much ass in the final battle was really something I came up with pretty recently, which is why I said I didn't have too much planned for her. As for the concoction Gendo used on her, it was really just meant to be some side project of NERV's the was abandoned when the Angels came back. I like to imagine NERV might have had a lot of such projects that were shelved when the war started, and Gendo would have all kinds of motives for wanting to be able to super charge Rei for a little while.

MadAngryBeaver, I think Anno or Gainax or somebody involved with Eva once explained that Unit Two got a piece of Kyoko's soul when she did the sync test that caused her to go insane. It was the piece that recognized Asuka as her daughter, which was why she did the whole thing with the doll. After Kyoko died, the remaining parts of her soul supposedly were drawn to the piece in Unit Two and they reassembled themselves…or something.

RI100014, heh, I never knew that the whole swallowing one's tongue during the seizure was just a myth.

As always, thanks to my readers and reviewers.



She trailed off when Ritsuko gently cupped her cheek and turned her head so Maya was looking her in the eyes.

"I never thought about pursuing a romantic relationship with a woman," Ritsuko said. "But the idea doesn't repulse me, either. And I think if anybody deserves a chance, it's you. Nobody else has ever cared about me as much as you have, that's for sure."

Maya smiled brilliantly at her former mentor.

"Hot lesbian action! Awesome!"

Both Ritsuko and Maya jumped a foot at the sound of the voice and looked around wildly, wondering who the hell had said that.

At first they didn't see anything, then they spotted a spot of milky white light that was forming in the middle of the room. Terrified, the two women backed away, but then stood frozen as the light slowly began to take a humanoid shape. In seconds, the light went from a blob to being easily recognizable as—

"Kaji?!" Ritsuko exclaimed.

"Yes, it's me," Kaji's ghost said. "And, well, being dead sucks, so I was really hoping to be able to watch you two go at it."

Ritsuko blushed. "I think it'll be a while before we're ready to do that," she said, then added in a more forceful tone, "and we certainly won't let you watch!"

"Aw, come on!" Kaji whined. "I totally got the shaft this fic! I still got shot, but I didn't get to sleep with Misato! That's worse than in canon!"

"I don't care," Ritsuko said. "You're not watching us have sex!"

"If you don't let me watch you, then I'll haunt you both!" Kaji threatened.

Ritsuko's eyes narrowed. "Maya-chan, call an exorcist, please."

"Right away, Ritsuko-chan," Maya said, heading for the phone.

"Hey, come on! There's no need for that! All I wanted to do is watch a little hot lesbian sex!" Kaji said. "How can you deny me that?!"

Ritsuko turned to Maya. "Tell them we'll need an old priest and a young priest."

Maya nodded.

"Aw," Kaji pouted, "you two suck."