Author's Notes: Alright, I refuse to lay around and mope at my writer's block. I greatly enjoyed Darckredd's rambling and crazy story 'Observations', and so I'm going to relieve my writing stresses with this story. DarckRedd, if you don't approve of this, I'll take it down, but until then, well, you know the drill. This story is for Pyro, who wished my other 'reset' story had humor.

Observations on Redux

Lilith brooded as the mass consciousness of humanity dreamed. The part of her that was Rei might have been satisfied to have given Gendo the finger by allowing Shinji to control Instrumentality, but something just did not sit right with the way things were going. She could feel Rei preparing for her death. It was obvious the boy was dissatisfied with the way things were, and Lilith agreed with her. The boy would reject Impact, and deposit himself back into the harsh world of light and darkness. And for what purpose?

"To see them all again," Rei told her. "He does not mind getting hurt, as long as he has a possibility of obtaining happiness."

"That's absurd," thought Lilith. "Isn't he one with humanity right now? Why can't he find happiness in some shared dream with them?"

"That's the thing," Rei answered with an ethereal sigh. For a moment Lilith wondered who she was really talking to. Herself? The two of them were technically one being now, and...

"Does it matter?" Rei asked placidly.

"I guess not. Now, you were saying," Lilith drew Rei back on topic.

"Yes. His dream..." The two of them looked into the mind of Shinji Ikari.

A world coalesced around them. It didn't look very realistic at all, and Lilith scratched her head in confusion, wondering what was wrong. Oh, the scale. Shinji was standing on the earth, a happy smile on his face. Images of all his friends and acquaintances were all around him, clapping and congratulating him.

"You see?!" Rei exclaimed.

"This is his dream...?" Lilith asked in disbelief. "None of those people are there," she said, a touch of sadness in her voice.

"No," Rei answered sardonically. "They are not. And could you blame them? Who in their right mind would want to share in such a dull dream? Even as socially deprived as I am, and as much as I want Shinji to be happy, I could not take part in something as warm and sickeningly fluffy as that." Rei looked at the Rei-image Shinji had unknowingly constructed. She tried to contort her own face to match the joyful expression, but simply could not.

Lilith/Rei delicately withdrew from the construct. "He will soon discover that no one is sharing in his dream," Rei said slowly, "then he will reverse Instrumentality and we will die."

"Why could he not have a more enticing dream?" Lilith wondered. She had looked in on Asuka, who was currently having a very torrid session of, ahem, baking, with Kaji. Actually, Misato was 'cooking' as well, and Kaji was bouncing between the two realities like a ping-pong ball. Neither Asuka nor Misato knew they were sharing Kaji, for the same reason Shinji did not know he was alone. Well, not completely alone. Penpen, bless his black little heart, had chosen to stay in the boy's reality. The penguin had gotten enough of Misato and Kaji se-, er, 'baking' back in the real world, and was happy enough to stay with Shinji. Atleast the boy did not try to have drinking contests. Or if he did, the penguin was reasonably sure he would win.

"Surely Shinji has a little more imagination than this," Lilith insisted.

"No," Rei answered. "He actually did try to approach Asuka early in the Impact..."

"Really!?" Lilith perked up. "Our little Shinji tried to put the moves on Asuka?"

"Well," Rei temporized, "It didn't quite work out that way, but..."

"Surely she would give him a chance," Lilith rationalized. "The way those two went at it in real life, and how sad she looked when you two were at the train station..."

At this Rei blushed and smiled a little. "That was a good day," she said softly, remembering how happy Shinji had been.

"But not for Asuka!" Lilith prodded her. "She was jealous. Which means she had feelings for the guy." Lilith put her hand to her chin in thought. "So she actually showed up in one of Shinji's early realities. I know it doesn't take long for things to devolve between the two of them, but surely..."

"She threw a pot of coffee at him, and he ended up choking her to death," Rei said suddenly.

"I see," Lilith said slowly. "Well, that explains why she isn't in his reality now... hey!" she looked accusingly at Rei, who was touching both her index fingers together and averting her gaze. "You... you manipulated that reality!" Lilith accused.

"Maybe..." Rei answered shyly.

"You couldn't stand to see the two of them together."

"Well..." Rei tried to ignore Lilith's piercing look.

"How could you!" Lilith scolded her counterpart. "Why, with all the repressed feelings those two had, they both probably would have snapped and been all over each other rutting like wild ani-MMPH!" Rei had put a hand over Lilith's mouth, her head turned away to hide her tears.

"Don't say it."

"Hey, don't cry." Lilith put her arm around the blue haired girl, reaching around and wiping away the tears slipping down her face. "Why don't you go to him? He's got no one else."

"He's afraid of me."

"Aah, he just needs some time. I'm sure he'll..."

"No," Rei said with finality, looking up with determination. "He'll end Impact, I'll die, and everything will be alright."

Lilith was shocked at the morbidity of that statement. "Wh-what?"

"Yes, everything will be fine. Just fine..." Rei sat herself down some ways away from where Shinji stood, his happy expression faltering slightly.

No, this won't do at all, Lilith thought, looking from Shinji to Rei. I have to do something. At this rate, she frowned in thought. When instrumentality ended, the strong-willed would be able to return, if they wanted. Asuka, for sure. She looked back to Shinji, whose face was rapidly degenerating from joy into a very serious thoughtfulness. The way he's going, Shinji will come back as well. And when they wake up together, one of the two will kill the other. After all, Shinji had already tried once, and Asuka would have been pulled from a very pleasant Kaji-dream. It just depended on who regained consciousness first.

She looked up to find Shinji's world in ruins. The boy was laying in a pool of LCL, and Rei was with him in a very lewd position, whispering something in his ear. With a start, she felt Instrumentality begin to crumble. I waited too long, she thought sadly, as she watched Shinji shake Rei's hand and dissolve his world. But why does Rei have a death-wish? Lilith didn't mind, she had lived a very full and long life (albeit the last part had been a little boring, she being tacked up to a cross with a forked stick shoved through her gut, but beggars can't be choosers). Wait just a minute...

She watched as Rei's ethereal form floated on the ocean of LCL in the real world, watching over the two supine figures who had been brought back. She... all she wants is to see one of them murder the other before she dies! That little vixen... Even now Shinji was awakening, and as the boy crawled over to Asuka's form and began to choke her, she could see Rei edge closer, not wanting to miss anything. Truth be told, Rei's plan didn't bother Lilith all that much. After all, the two were quite close, in more ways than one. What hurt was that Rei had not shared it with her. Well, two can play this game. I have a few secrets of my own, she thought, materializing a small remote with a single button and the words 'Do Not Push Under Any Circumstances' written on it in rather large and frightening letters. She pushed it.

Reality began to fade around her, and she wondered briefly if she had done the right thing. Nah, Shinji for sure would have killed Asuka. I'm doing everyone a favor. Really I am, after all, if I had waited a momen- her thought was rudely interrupted by a horrible moment of the most intense agony imaginable, after which she felt nothing.

When next Lilith awoke, she was again in the depths of Terminal Dogma, and that damned forked stick was pinning her to her cross. Okay, so my plan had a few downsides. No problem, I can deal with this. She loaded up her old standby, 'Freecell.' Her last win-loss record stood at fifty four thousand nine hundred and eighty six won games to seventeen games lost. She had long since found that pressing 'control' 'alternate' 'delete' and forcibly ending a game would keep it from showing up on her 'Losses.' (A/N: This works. Sad, but true.) She had included the seventeen losses just so the record looked a bit more believable. That fool Iruel hadn't even bothered to try to hide her own hack. Before being taken out by Ritsuko, her record had stood at something like ninety thousand wins to zero losses.

"Hey, who's the fool," Iruel murmured, languishing in her nascent form, waiting until the proper day to hatch herself upon the unsuspecting MAGI. "You had the world in your hands, and now you're back here!"

"Watch your tone, sister," Lilith chided. "This was all part of the... plan."

"What plan?" scoffed Iruel. "Ninety-thousand and one, by the way."

"I'm ignoring you," Lilith retorted sullenly, turning back to her own game. Damn, this one looks unwinnable. She pondered whether or not to make her losses column a little more believable, or to forcibly end the game and load another.

Meanwhile, Shinji was slumped beneath the phone at which he had reappeared. The recording was yammering on about a state of emergency, but he had heard it all before. He was in one of his usual Shinji-depressions, but this time he didn't quite know why. Would killing Asuka have given me happiness? He figured he would never find out now. The next time she saw him, she would undoubtedly be on her guard.

Rei winced as she opened her good eye, looking around tiredly at the familiar ICU hospital room she inhabited.. Lilith betrayed me, she thought with a sad little sigh. But I guess I don't mind that much. I kind of hid my own plan from her after all... She closed her eyes, a tiny smile flitting across her neutral features as an outraged scream from a certain enraged red-head echoed from halfway around the world. The overhead light fixture cracked slightly as the scream turned extremely shrill. That was almost as satisfying as watching him kill her...

Author's Notes: Now what? Heaven only knows. Or maybe Seele, they have the scrolls... Don't worry, this won't keep me from my Love Hina fics. If I wasn't doing this, I'd be staring at a blank screen, locked in an endless loop trying to write... my Love Hina fics. Actually... ah screw it. I'm the author, why do I have to explain my reasonings ;-)

More to the point... is there such a thing as Humor/Tragedy? I think that's what I'm going to have to call this.