GIFTS

A Neon Genesis Evangelion: The Child of Love fanfiction side story Written by Axel Terizaki (aterizak@free.fr). Assisted by Myssa Elaine Rei. Inspired by an idea from Marco Deladiere. Retooled by Dave Watson, with suggestions from Disaster, 2001 10 15-11
20. Brought to you by the makers of coffee.
Version 1.0.

ASUKA's Notebook--http://aterizak.free.fr/an/site
NARU's Diary--http://www.narudiary.free.fr

---

*ahem*

Who said I was out of action? :) Just enjoyed a few holidays, and now
it's time to get back to work!

This story follows the events of The Child of Love, my first Eva
fanfiction that I posted on the web. Of course, reading that first (if
you haven't already) is recommended, so you can understand the
characters and events in this better. Go ahead, we'll wait for you. :)

I have made a slight change; as you will see, Teri's brother is no
longer named "Axel," like he originally was, but...Hiroyuki :) I wonder
who the idiot was who decided to call him Axel in the first place. :P

A brief Japanese-to-English primer for those who might need it:
Otousan--father (polite); Okaasan--mother (polite); Yatta!--All right!;
Itadakimasu--I will receive it (said before enjoying a meal, as a type
of blessing); Ne?--Right?; Onee-san--older sister (polite); Onii-sama-- older brother (extremely reverent/respectful).

I'll let you discover the rest of the story yourself. Enjoy!


* * *


A gift...

Is it always a blessing...?

...or a curse?


* * *


"Damn homework..."

A young girl yawned. It was already past midnight, and she was
still at her desk, typing furiously on her laptop. Her short red hair was a
mess; a mark of how little she cared about things like that when she was
hard at work. She briefly stopped her assault on the keyboard to push her
glasses back up her nose. Yawning a little, she stirred in her chair, and
looked at her watch...


"Oh, no, this late already? I'd better finish this quickly, or
else okaasan will be furious if she finds out I'm still up..."

Her room was decorated with a few posters on the wall, some
music and movie discs laying on the floor in front of a complete
entertainment system, a teddy bear at the foot of her bed... like a
typical girl's room.

She suddenly hit her keyboard's Enter key violently and moved in
her chair again.

"Yattaaaa! Finished! I hate homework!" she almost cheered, but
whispered it out loud instead to keep from disturbing her parents'
sleep.

With that, she shut the computer down, which turned off the only
source of light left in the room, and prepared herself for a good, if
short, night's sleep. As she closed her eyes, her mind drifted to
something that she didn't want it to, and a tear slowly dripped down her
cheek.

"Why did you have to leave me...?"


* * *


Asuka yawned and mumbled. She always had difficulty with early
mornings. Even after a good shower, she was still a bit sleepy. She
slumped in a kitchen chair and looked at the place setting in front of
her...empty.

"Shinji? Isn't breakfast ready yet?" she asked, looking in his
direction.

Shinji Ikari looked back at her. "Don't worry, Asuka-chan,
it'll be ready in a minute."

"You'd better hurry. I'm starving."

"Well, after last night, I guess I can't blame you," Shinji
smiled. Asuka humphed in response.

Both of them were adults now. They had both been through a lot,
but, as time passed, they had gotten closer to each other and found out
that things were easier to overcome together. Asuka had stopped wearing
her EVA interface hairclips a long time ago, and let her hair grow even
longer. Shinji had became taller and put on some muscle, but still kept
his hair the same length. He also shaved religiously every morning
after skipping it one busy Sunday, looking at the heavy stubble on his
face in the mirror the next day, and noticing how much it reminded him
of a beard--his father's. The man who drew him and Asuka together in
some way, but who was also ready to sacrifice them for whatever
mysterious plans he had in mind.

"There's some curry-flavoured cup ramen in the cupboard if you
can't wait just a few more minutes," he added, after a few seconds.

"No, thanks. It reminds me of when Misato was cooking for us."

The young couple were exchanging a chuckle when a third person
walked into the kitchen.

"Good morning, Teri-chan," Shinji said, as the second redhead of
his household came up to him and gave him a little kiss on the cheek.
She was already dressed in her school uniform, a white short-sleeved
blouse with a thin ribbon tied around her neck and a grey skirt that
fell to her knees.

"Good morning, otousan, okaasan..." Both redheads then yawned
in sync.

"Isn't Hiro up yet? He's going to be late for school," Teri
inquired, a bit worried. She had to walk to school with her brother
every morning, and he sometimes made her late.

Asuka sighed. Her son slept like a rock. She slowly stood up
from her chair.

"Okay, I'll go wake him up..."

Teri sat down at the table and watched her father prepare
breakfast. The table was soon laid out with a strange mix of Japanese
and European food, which was the result of the desire of a certain
someone to have her children raised with both her and her husband's
cultures. Teri looked at her smiling father, and then her plate.

"Itadakimasu!" she exclaimed, before digging in. Breakfast is
said to be the most important meal of the day, but, for Teri, there
seemed to be no difference, as she hungrily devoured her fried eggs.
For her, every meal was important, as long as it tasted good and filled
the gap inside her belly.


* * *


Asuka opened the door to her son's room and stepped inside,
careful not to make any noise. It was kind of strange, since her
primary objective was to wake him up. She slowly approached the bed in
front of her, looking around so she wouldn't bump into or step on
anything. Even though it was quite dark, she could still distinguish
the layout of the room, thus avoiding all the obstacles in her way. As
she reached her destination, she slowly bent over, and whispered into an
ear.

"Hiro...wake up..."

No response.

"Hiroyuki-chan, wake up..." she said, just under her normal tone
of voice.

Still no response. Asuka grimaced as she began to lose her
patience. She inhaled a bit.

"WAKE UP, HIROYUKI!"

"GYAAAAHH!" The seeming corpse under the covers jerked and sat
up its bed, groggily looking at the source of the outburst which had
interrupted its peaceful slumber.

"...Mama?" he asked, eyes half-opened. Asuka stood up and
crossed her arms over her chest.

"Wake up *now*, Mister Ikari, or you'll be late for school
again!"

"Yes, mama. Is it already morning...?" Hiroyuki yawned, and
rubbed his eyes.

"If you don't stop waking up late on school days, I'm going to
have to take drastic measures!" she threatened. Hiroyuki knew that when
his mother was angry, there was absolutely no way he could go up against
her. Even his dad and sister couldn't do a thing when she was like
this; her word was law. He got up, and slowly, groggily walked to his
doorway. Asuka followed, giving him a little slap across the butt to
move him along.

"Come on, hurry up!"

"Yeah, yeah..."

Seeing him turning towards the bathroom, she smiled. Being a
mother wasn't so bad, and she kind of liked to play the tyrant with her
children from time to time. She left the room, turning the other way,
back to the kitchen.


* * *


Having heard the scene from the kitchen, Shinji finished setting
Hiroyuki's breakfast on the table. He sat next to the chair Asuka was
in earlier, and started in on his own meal.

"As usual, great cooking, otousan."

"Arigatou, Teri-chan." Shinji smiled back at her, although he
knew Teri wasn't feeling well lately. This was mostly due to the
departure of one of her best childhood friends. He was an American boy
who had recently returned to his homeland with his parents after they
had lived in Japan for many years. Both her parents and close friends
knew about the two of them being kind of a couple, even if they were
more like good friends than anything else. Asuka, Shinji and Hiroyuki
took turns comforting the poor girl when it looked like it was getting
to her. This wasn't always easy, since she tended to hide those
feelings, and she even tried to refuse the help sometimes, angrily
insisting that she was fine when she obviously wasn't. That was one of
the few things Asuka wasn't proud of passing on to her daughter.

The two ate quietly, and Asuka soon joined them, sliding back
into her chair.

"Hiroyuki-chan is such a lazy sleepyhead!"

"Much like you, okaasan, ne?" Teri replied immediately. She
loved to tease her mother from time to time, like some children do.
Shinji just chuckled at the two of them.

"You'll pay for that later, young lady," Asuka retorted, in a
fake angry tone. Teri then looked idly at her watch.

"Oh my god, it's that late already?" Swallowing the food in her
mouth, she quickly stood up, grabbed her schoolbag, ran to the bathroom
door and knocked on it.

"Hiro-chan, you'd better hurry up, or I won't wait for you!"

A grumble came from the bathroom. Teri decided to wait outside
then. Soon after, Hiroyuki emerged, rushed to his own room to get
dressed, grabbed some food off his plate to eat on the way to school,
kissed his parents goodbye and joined his older sister outside, all in
about five minutes.

"You sure are slow..." Teri commented, grinning. She loved
irritating the people she loved the most, even if it did backfire on her
now and again.

"You sure repeat yourself a lot, onee-san," he retorted, as they
continued to their school.

"Hmph! Baka!" she growled, looking away.


* * *


Shinji watched his wife sit down in front of her computer and
begin to type with a fierce but steady speed. He chuckled and admired
her concentration, and how she looked with her reading glasses, long red
hair and serious expression. Since they had both wanted to break away
from their past, Misato made arrangements which helped them both settle
into a more peaceful, normal life. Asuka decided to become a freelance
writer, and Shinji worked as a Japanese-language home tutor for foreign
children.

"How is your book coming along?" he asked, taking a sip from his
coffee. His next lesson was in two hours, so he was biding his time.

Her pace slowed just a little to allow her to reply.
"Hmm...very well, I must say. It's just the beginning, but I'm doing
fine. I'll probably go to the library later today to do some research,
so you'd better take your keycard, in case I'm not back when you are."

"Sure. Don't worry."

Now her typing slowed to a stop, and she turned to face him.

"I feel sorry for Teri-chan and Hiroyuki-chan," she said, a bit
depressed. Asuka was very protective of her children, especially Teri.
Given everything that had happened surrounding her conception and birth,
she considered their problems her own.

"Because the Readmans went back to the United States? Well--"

"We were all close to them. They were our best friends, apart
from the ones we had when we were younger. Hell, I haven't seen Hikari
in years! She's probably totally busy taking care of that idiot Toji.
And what about Misato, Kaji-san and Rei? Do you think they're doing
well?" she asked, interrupting him. Nancy and Drake Readman moved into
the complex at the same time the Ikari household took over Misato
Katsuragi's former apartment, and lived right next door to them for
several years until their recent transfer back to the States. The
Readmans really didn't want to leave their friends, but they didn't have
any choice in the matter.

"I'm sure they are. We kinda lost contact with them a long time
ago. That's a shame, really," he added.

"Maybe we should try to get back in touch. Who knows? Maybe
they have a cute son Teri-chan could henpeck, now that Brand's gone,"
Asuka suggested, with a bright smile on her face. Shinji just chuckled.

"Those two were very close. I even remember Teri-chan helping
me out when I was teaching Brand Japanese."

"Yes...makes me feel nostalgic," she remarked, idly rubbing her
cheek.

That's when Shinji slowly got up and put both his hands on his
wife's shoulders, gently massaging them.

"It sounds like a long time ago, doesn't it? I didn't see
ourselves grow up. Even Teri-chan and Hiro-chan seem to have grown
quicker than I can follow. I still remember when you were carrying her,
when we were so carefree about all the things around us, just thinking
of ourselves..."

"You too? I want to be young again..." Asuka said, dreamily.

"Aren't we still young? We had Teri-chan at a very young age,
so we're hardly old. What did you have in mind?" he asked, curious.
She looked up at him and smiled.

"Can't my sweety baka guess?"

Shinji smiled back at her, delicately took her glasses off her
face, and leaned over to give her a gentle kiss. It lasted for several
long, sweet seconds, as both of them shared a little moment of intimacy
while their children were out. Their chances of being disturbed now
were a mere 0.0000008%, as a blonde scientist they both knew would have
said. Shinji broke off the kiss, and smiled at her.

"I'm not Teri-chan, but I can read your mind, ba-ka hen-tai!"
Asuka said in a funny voice, grinning.

Shinji just grinned back.


* * *


The bell rang. The school day was over.

"Finally, free..." sighed the young redhead as she hurriedly
packed her schoolbag. She found school quite boring, and when you're
bored by something, you tend to think about other things. In this case,
it was someone else. Someone now far away...

"Hey, Teri! Wanna go to karaoke?" another girl asked the
redhead from the doorway.

"Hmmm...I don't know..."

"Come on...it's Brand, isn't it? Cheer up. You still have us,
after all," the girl added. Her name was Sakuya, and she also had red
hair, but it was arranged in two tresses hanging down each side of her
head. She looked very mature, but was about the same age as Teri.
Hair-dyeing was in fashion in the mid-2030's in Japan, making Teri look
less like a phenomenon; her own hair colour was a natural red, which was
hard to prove to people who'd never known her before. Sakuya was from a
rich family, but wasn't the snob type; she was warm and down to earth.
She was close to Teri, mostly because they had both known each other
since junior high and shared good moments in class, as well as hanging
out after school.

Teri sighed. She knew she couldn't resist her friend. She
managed a smile, and replied.

"Okay, you win, Sakuya..." Teri got up from her desk and slowly
walked over to the girl. As she approached, she saw her two other
friends waiting for her in the hall.

"We're going to chase him out of your mind, Teri!" a cute young
girl added. This one had short red hair, too, and was a very good cook.
She was a nice girl, always smiling and willing to help anyone who
asked.

"Akari's right! And I challenge you: The one who gets the
lower mark on that test coming up will have to do the other's homework
for one week!"

If there was something Teri couldn't refuse, it was a challenge.
She rolled her eyes and eyed her friend in a fake-menacing way.

"You've already lost, Yukino-chan..." replied the depressed
girl, trying a bit to act normal in front of her friends. Yukino was
the last of the group their classmates often called the 'Red Quartet',
as they were the only redheaded girls in the classroom. Most of the
girls who dyed their hair tried for a shade of blonde.

"We'll see about that, Ms. Ikari!"

Sakuya tapped Teri's shoulder and smiled.

"So that's settled. Now, let's go!"

Teri didn't know what to say. After a brief moment of thought,
she sighed, grabbed her cell phone and pressed a couple of buttons.

"Hiro-chan? Yeah it's me. Don't wait for me, because I'm going
out with some friends. Yeah, tell okaasan and otousan about it. Hm.
Dunno when we'll be back. Yeah, bye," she said before cutting the line
and putting the phone back into her pocket. The three other girls
cheered, seeing that their friend had accepted their offer of some fun.

Teri wasn't exactly an outgoing girl. Even if she was rather
popular among her classmates, with her not-exactly-Japanese name being a
curio that caught others' attention, she was quite shy when she wasn't
around somebody she already knew. However, the rare ones who did dare
to approach her were rewarded with a good and playful friend. Her
parents often taught her that it was important to have friends, but she
couldn't help her nature. Besides, the ability to hear clearly in one's
head what others were thinking was, in her opinion, not a good thing to
have when being around friends, or potential friends. Teri was not your
typical young girl, and as she grew up, she hated it more and more as
each day passed.


* * *


15 years ago. A palm slammed down on a desk.

"What the HELL are you saying!? She can read MINDS!?" asked a
fuming Asuka. Shinji was sitting next to her, with a dark look on his
face. In front of them, on the other side of the desk, was the
brilliant doctor and scientist Ritsuko Akagi. Misato Katsuragi, NERV
official and Asuka and Shinji's legal guardian, was standing in a corner
of the room, arms crossed over her chest.

"Not only that. She also showed some pretty unbelievable
abilities with telekinesis and is able to travel through dreams, among
other things..."

"What do you mean!?" the redhead asked, angrily.

"Well, for now, I'm not sure. But these kinds of...abilites...
could manifest themselves in other ways, like premonitions. It's too
early to tell. But her case is very interesting, and I would like to--"

"NO WAY! We're taking her home. You will NOT lay another
finger on her!" Asuka's anger and surprise took over her emotions and
words, and Shinji felt himself powerless in front of her. Ritsuko, on
the other hand, was beginning to lose her patience.

"Did you forget, young lady, that I SAVED your life!? That I
also saved your daught..."

Everyone gasped as Asuka's hand suddenly and violently connected
with Ritsuko's cheek.

"I'm not going to be in your debt for this, ever! It's EVA's
fault, you and your stupid projects, for whatever reasons I don't give a
damn about! You, and everybody who was involved in this, it's ALL your
fault! You killed my mother! You nearly killed me! You handicapped my
daughter! And you dare tell me that I should be grateful!? You must be
crazy!!"

"Asuka, calm down!" Misato interjected.

"I understand how you feel, Asuka. But we're here to help you.
All this was because of the former commander. We might have some
responsibility for that, too, but we don't have the same goals anymore.
NERV isn't what it used to be," she added, trying to calm her down.
Asuka just turned towards the other woman.


"So you're trying to tell me that NERV wants to atone? That it
wants to be forgiven for everything? I'm sorry, but I'll never forgive
NERV for what it did to my life."

She paused for a few seconds and looked down.

"There's only one thing for which I am thankful to NERV. I got
to meet Shinji," she said, as the slightest trace of a smile crossed her
angry face.

"Asuka..." Shinji managed to say. "We're going to help her out,
right? We're not going to let Teri-chan down. I'm sure that if we are
good parents to her, she'll go the right way and won't use her... powers...for evil, or anything like that," he added, after a few seconds
of thinking. He still sounded a bit hesitant, and still shocked by the
news and Asuka's reaction.

"I forbid you to take her away from here! She could be
dangerous. We don't know what else can happen..."

"You...YOU...!"

This time, Asuka went completely berserk and jumped up, her eyes
blazing, and reared back to punch the woman, but Shinji grabbed her arm
in time, and tried to calm her down. After a few seconds, she jerked
his hand away, walked out of the office and slammed the door violently
behind her, making everyone else in the room wince.

"And I thought everything was going to be okay once she was
born," the purple-haired woman sighed, a bit dumbfounded.

"I...I'll go after her...!" Shinji declared before leaving the
room as well. The two women remained inside with an angry young woman's
words echoing in their minds, knowing fully well that they couldn't
really say or do anything to change her mind about this after all.

Outside, against the corridor wall, Shinji held Asuka close as
she nestled her head in his shoulder and sobbed. He was stroking her
hair and back lovingly, trying to calm her down.

"Shinji...my daughter...she's just like...just like that Angel
that...that ruined me for so long..."

He knew what she meant, and silenced her by gently taking her
head into his hands and planting a light kiss on her lips. There was no
need for her to recall those painful moments of her past.

"Don't say that. She'll be fine. We'll make sure of that. We
won't be like our parents."

Her grip on him tightened as she started softly crying on his
shirt. She had always promised herself not to cry anymore since she was
a child, but she knew, loved and trusted Shinji enough to be able to let
her guard down around him now. She knew that he would never think any
less of her because of it.


* * *


The sky was already dark and cloudy outside as classes ended
late for Teri and her friends. The four girls walked down the streets
leading to the Tokyo-3 Center. They were all chatting happily about
what happened that day. Actually, not all of them were chatting. One
of the girls listened silently, with a grim look on her face. Somehow,
she was different than she was earlier in the day; as the hours passed,
she only felt more insecure. She managed to keep her usual face up this
morning with her family, but her efforts weakened as the day passed.
Getting bored usually leads you to let your thoughts wander in your
mind. And that's exactly what Teri was today. Bored. Boredom and
depression...a terrible mix.

She was walking a bit behind the rest of them, mulling over what
happened lately. Her best friend had left for another country, and
their teachers had suddenly given them an enormous load of homework,
probably in preparation for the upcoming exams. Even if she had a few
good friends and knew she could count on them, they were really all she
had, apart from her family. When she looked at other people her age
around her, she saw that they always had lots of friends, went to
parties and had lots of people in their cell phones' address books. In
her phone memory, there were only seven numbers--one for each of her
friends, her family members and her ex-neighbour. She hated parties,
too. So full of loud people, some of them doing nasty things, like
drinking alcohol and smoking--two things she couldn't stand.

Actually, there was one thing she had loved to drink since she
was young, and that was orange juice. But teenagers like her didn't
drink orange juice at parties; that is, unless they wanted to be looked
down on by everybody else there for not being "cool." She didn't care
at all, anyway. Parties just weren't for her.

She sighed and looked ahead. Her friends were still chatting,
seemingly ignoring her. That's when she heard a very audible beep above
her. Looking up, she saw the traffic signal turning red for
pedestrians. She stopped in her tracks.

"Huh?"

"Teri! Why are you so slow? Hurry, or it's going to be too
late to do our favorite song!" Sakuya waved at her from the middle of
the street. Teri looked down, and saw that she was still on the
sidewalk. She was going to say something, when a light to her right
suddenly glanced in her eyes. As she turned towards the source, she
gasped.

It was a truck, and it was heading straight for the girls in the
middle of the street. Her friends.

'It's going too fast!' Teri thought, eyes wide in fear.

She thought about what to do quickly. Either she could jump and
push them away, and possibly be injured or killed by the truck...or
maybe she could...

'I have to do it!'

She tightened her fists and concentrated. It had been a long
time since she last did this. She held out her hand, palm open towards
her friends, and hoped. She hoped with all her heart and soul that it
was going to work...she didn't want to lose them.

The truck sped in front of her, making her shiver from the
speed, and the fear that maybe...no, she didn't want to think about it.
She finally decided to open her eyes, the truck now a long way past
them, and shivered again.

They were safe. On their butts (apart from one girl who had
landed shoulders first) and on the opposite sidewalk, but they were
safe, or so she hoped. Looking left and right, she made sure no other
vehicle was in view, and ran to them.

"My god, are you okay?!"

"T...Teri...?" Yukino looked up, a bit dazed by what had just
happened.

"What happened...? It felt like I flew over the ground..."
Akari moaned, as she rubbed her head in pain.

"Me, too, like a feather," Yukino added.

The three girls' gazes came to fall on Teri.

"...Teri?" Sakuya asked, dumbfounded.

"L...Look, girls...I..." she stammered.

"That really happened to us just now, didn't it? We flew. We
flew to the other side of the street," Sakuya commented.

"I...it's not what you think..."

The young Ikari seemed hesitant. It was the first time something
like that had ever happened to her.

"It's like you pushed us out of the way...but you didn't even
touch us!" Yukino remarked also.

"Teri, how did you do that? What are you? An angel?" Sakuya
added.

That last comment hit home for Teri. Never in her life has she
thought she would be called something like that. She knew she was
different, but didn't feel it until now. There was a long pause as she
looked down.

That's when the rain began to come down on the girls' heads.
Yukino looked up, and within seconds it began to pour down really hard.
Teri was thankful to the sky for this, since the rain would hide the
tears on her face.

"I'm sorry!" she blurted out. Realizing that she was crying
harder a second later, she quickly turned and ran down the street.

"TERI!" Sakuya screamed at her. She had a concerned look on her
face. Almost sad.


* * *


"Tadaima! [I'm home!]" announced Hiroyuki, as he stepped inside.

"Okaeri! [Welcome back!]" replied Asuka, from the living room.

Hiroyuki took off his shoes and headed for the source of the
voice that welcomed him back home. She was sitting in an armchair near
the window, holding a book in her hands. Seeing Hiroyuki, she looked
up.

"How was school? Where is your sister?" she asked.

"She called my cell and told me she was going out with some of
her friends."

Asuka raised an eyebrow.

"Friends?" she inquired.

"All girls, mom. Don't worry," her son clarified.

"Oh..." she sighed, relieved.

"Come to think of it, I've never really met them before. Maybe
I should ask Teri about them..." she added, looking up.

"C'mon, mama, it'd be embarrassing for her."

Asuka chuckled.

"I know, I know. I've been young before, too," she smiled,
looking at him. He just stood there.

"No homework to do?" she added, as she looked at him over the
top of her glasses.

"Hmm...not much work to do today. I'll do it later."

He eyed his mother carefully, admiring her intent expression as
she read her book.

"Say, mama...it's been a long time you've had those glasses,
right? I remember you wearing these when I was a kid," he remarked,
curious.

"They were a gift from my math teacher in Todai. She was very
close to her students, especially to me. Not that I minded, though. It
was wonderful to know a teacher who wasn't old and annoying. She was
just like one of us, only wiser. When I was about to graduate, I told
her that one of the things I was always going to remember about Todai
was her and how serious but kind she always looked when she wore her
glasses, and she gave them to me as a souvenir. It was really quite a
surprise. I told her that I couldn't take them, but she insisted. She
told me that she had to buy a newer, stronger pair anyway, since her
eyesight was even worse than her fiance's. I got the lenses replaced,
since I needed reading glasses anyway, like your sister does. They're
one of the few things I truly cherish. Why do you ask?"

"Hmm...well, just curious, I guess. Sorry if it sounded out of
place, mom."

Asuka smiled at him.

"That's okay, don't worry. You're as sweet as your father
sometimes, Hiroyuki-chan..." she said softly.

"What was that teacher's name, by the way?"

"Hmmm...you know, I'm terrible at remembering names...it began
with a N...I think it was something like Naruse--"

The doorbell rang. Asuka grumbled. She hated being interrupted
at times like these.

Hiroyuki went to the door and answered. It was a girl with long
red hair.

"Errr...Yuumura-san?" Hiroyuki asked, not quite sure. The girl
was soaked and panting.

"...ah...Ikari-kun...is your sister here? I'm sorry to bother
you so late..."

"Wasn't she supposed to be out with you?"

"She's not here?" Sakuya asked, without replying to Hiroyuki's
question first.

"No, I'm sorry. Why should she be here?"

"What's going on here?" Asuka came into the hallway, spotting
Sakuya. The girl immediately bowed when she saw the older woman. There
was just something about her that suddenly demanded that gesture.

"Errr...are you Teri's sister? I didn't know she had one."

Asuka sweatdropped.

"Me? Teri's sister? I'm 32, young lady!"

The girl blushed heavily.

"Oh my god. I'm sorry, Mrs. Ikari! You just look so much like
her, and--" Asuka interrupted her by slowly but firmly raising her hand.

"It's okay. I'm flattered, actually. What's your name,
anyway?"

The girl bowed.

"Yuumura Sakuya. May I talk to you, Mrs. Ikari? It's
important."

Asuka grinned.

"Hiroyuki-chan, why don't you let your girlfriend in? Can't you
see that she's drenched? She might catch a cold."

The two teens blushed deep red. Asuka knew that there was
nothing between them, but teased them nonetheless.

"Mama, it's not what you think! It's one of Teri's friends!"

"Oh!? Her friend? But you..." She turned towards Sakuya.

"Where is Teri? Did something happen to her?! You'd better
answer!" She probably would have grabbed Sakuya by her collar if
Hiroyuki hadn't been there. Asuka was very sensitive about whatever
happened to her dear daughter.

"P-please calm down, Mrs. Ikari! I have something to ask you."

"Huh!?"


* * *


Teri wandered through the hard rain. Somehow, she wasn't at all
wet. The rain wasn't even touching her. She walked and walked for what
seemed like hours to her.

"Hey, young lady! Wanna have some tea with me? I know a good
place--" a man called out to her from under an umbrella. However, the
look Teri gave the man froze him to stone.

"Don't bother me, pervert. I'm not into bondage or any sick
stuff like that, so go away before I call the police." She spoke in a
very dark tone that scared him to death. How did she...?

"H...Huh? How...?"

"Go away. Now." She looked like she was about to start
shaking--or pulling out a knife--because of the pure hatred she felt
towards the man.

Scared by what the girl just told her, the man immediately ran
away, dropping his umbrella. She looked at it, very briefly considered
taking it herself, and decided to leave it there and walk on. Her A.T.
Field would suffice to protect her from the rain.


* * *


"...so that's the story," Asuka concluded, in front of a very
surprised and shocked Sakuya. The two were sitting across from each
other on the couches in the living room. Hiroyuki had been listening
closely, too, as he was serving himself some hot tea he had prepared for
his mother and her sister's friend.

"This is...truly unbelievable," Sakuya finally managed to utter
after a stunned silence.

"After what you just experienced, can you really say that?"

"I guess...not," she admitted. She was now wearing track pants
and a pullover sweater borrowed from Teri's closet, as her soaked
uniform was drying off in the kitchen, hanging over a kerosene heater.

"But...this may sound dumb, Ikari-san, but...is she...human?"

Asuka sighed. She didn't like conversations like these, but was
more or less forced to face it.

"Of course she is. She just has abilities we don't. I know
this is something that might be dangerous, if the wrong kind of people
had it. But me and my husband feel that we gave her a lot of love and a
good education, so I'm not worrying. I believe that she has a good
heart. And if you truly are Teri's friend, you'd respect her and not
let word get out about this, would you? I fought long and hard to keep
her out of NERV's clutches after she was born, and I'd hate to find out
that I'd have to do that all over again now."

"Don't worry, Mrs. Ikari. We all agreed to not say anything
about it to anybody else. After all, she saved us from an accident
today with those abilities. But I think I reacted to it really badly,
and so did my friends. And I wanted to apologize for them."

"So where's Teri?"

"I...I don't know. I thought she would have come back here..."

"No, she isn't," replied Asuka, before standing up and taking
her car keys out of her pocket.

Hiroyuki finally spoke up himself. "Teri couldn't run away like
that. Why would she do this?"

Asuka didn't reply at first, until she took her jacket and
started putting it on.

"I think I know what she's feeling right now. I went through
the exact same thing myself when I was her age," she explained, before
putting her shoes on. The two teens were soon also getting ready to
leave with her.

"What do you mean, mama?"

Asuka opened the front door, and didn't even turn to look at
them when she answered.

"She feels alone."


* * *


The place was familiar. She remembered going there when she was
a child, with her parents. The rain had calmed down a bit, but was
still splashing on the ground all around her. She was leaning on a
guardrail, overlooking Tokyo-3.

"I'm such a fool, running away like that...okaasan and otousan
are probably worried...Hiro-chan, too..."

She looked up at the city in front of her.

"Tokyo-3...my parents used to protect it, or so they told me..."

She then looked down at her hand, examining it closely.

"And me...why was I born like this? With those powers I don't
even want...and Brand, and now Sakuya and the others...did Brand go back
to the U.S. because he rejected me? He could have stayed here. I'm
sure mom and dad wouldn't have minded...no, that's selfish. What about
his parents? I guess they were more important..."

She looked down below, resting her head on her arms.

"More important than me..."

She sighed. Her thoughts were twirling around in a dark cycle.

"Am I really important to anyone, anyway? I don't even know
what to do. Now, or in the future..."

"Difficult phase for a teenager like you, isn't it?" a voice
asked gently next to her. She hadn't even noticed she was standing
there until this moment. How long had she been watching and listening
to her? Teri eyed the woman's arms crossed on the rail, with a can of
beer in one of her hands. She looked up, and saw that she had long
purple hair. The woman smiled, opened the can and lifted it up to her
lips, drinking for a few seconds. She then exhaled loudly and smiled
again before looking at Teri, who just looked perplexed. Who was she?
She looked so familiar...finally, the young girl gasped.

"AUNTIE MISATO!? Is that you!?" she asked, wide-eyed.

"Surprised? It has been a while, Teri-chan." the woman smiled.

"You bet! Is that really you? I can't believe it! But why are
you here?" Teri asked, looking overjoyed.

"Me? Oh, I was just passing by with Kaji and Rei. I also got a
call from your father to help him look for you."

"Aunt Ayanami's here, too!?"

A car horn suddenly sounded behind them. Kaji Ryoji waved at
them from the car. As Teri looked closer at the car, she could see a
pale-skinned, blue-haired woman sitting behind him, giving her that
strange but familiar enigmatic half-smile.

"B...but I thought you had moved away from Tokyo-3?"

"We did, but your parents invited us over for dinner tonight,
and Shinji-kun called us on our way to Tokyo-3 and asked us to help him
find you. He thought that you'd probably be here. And was he ever
right." She thought back very briefly and grinned. "You may look a lot
like your mother, but you're daddy's little girl after all, aren't you?"

Teri didn't know how to take that. "I...I was going to go back
home anyway..."

Misato smiled and was about to say something, when she was
interrupted by a car speeding towards them. The lights blinded the two
a little, and the car's tires screeched as the driver floored the brake
pedal. Soon after, the doors opened and slammed shut, as Sakuya and the
rest of the Ikari family emerged from the vehicle.

"Well, young lady, you sure gave us a good scaring!" Asuka
looked at her sternly.

"Errr..."

Her father smiled at her. Teri got a bit nervous seeing Sakuya
behind them.

"Don't worry, Teri-chan. Sakuya will tell you herself."

Sakuya solemnly stepped forward, and bowed in front of her
speechless friend.

"Teri, I'm sorry about what I said earlier, I guess I was too
surprised about what had happened...I mean, about nearly getting hit by
a truck and then being saved like *that*."

"Sakuya..." the girl whispered.

"You know, whether you have super powers or not, or whatever it
is, I don't care at all. You're my friend, you're *our* friend, and we
will stay that way long as we can stay together. Right?"

"Right!" declared two voices behind them. Yukino and Akari were
behind them, on bicycles.

"Ah, you two are back!" Sakuya looked at them, and then back at
Teri. "Yukino got Akari home to help her bandage her head." Indeed,
Akari had a couple of bits of gauze taped to her head because of her
landing when Teri made them fly out of the truck's way.

"Teri-chan. You're not alone, all right? You have us, and you
have your friends. And we all love you. I hope you know just how much
you mean to us..." Shinji declared.

"Why...me?"

Misato put her arms around Teri.

"Because...it's your fault that your parents are in love," she
said sweetly, almost dreamily, as if she wished the same thing would
happen to her.

"Huh...?"

Teri saw Shinji and Asuka smile at each other before drawing
each other into a hug. As she looked around, she noticed that everyone
was smiling. Her brother. Her friends. Her parents. Misato.

That's when she realized she had a special part in everyone's
heart. The Teri in her parents' hearts was surrounded by love they had
both vowed together to never let waver. The Teri in her brother's heart
was one of the most beloved sisters on earth. The Teri in her friends'
hearts was a good and kind person who they felt fortunate to have in
their lives. The Teri in Misato's heart was the result of a lot of
dangerous risks, and would have been worth taking ten times as many if
she had needed to.

And, for once, she was glad she was able to read their minds.
She could honestly see that everyone cared about her and accepted her.

"Everyone..."

The young girl sniffled a bit.

"Thank you...! I'm sorry for all this, I didn't want...I've
just been so troubled lately...I missed Brand so much, I forgot that
you were all here for me. I don't know what to do...I feel so
embarrassed about all this..."

Asuka and Shinji approached Teri. The young girl looked at them
and made a small step forward, clutching and hugging her father close.

"Thank you, otousan..."

"You know Teri-chan, I used to run away all the time before your
mother...errr...disciplined me." he said shyly, wanting her to laugh at
his funny remark. Teri giggled a bit, and nestled herself in his arms.

"Hmph..." Asuka couldn't help but be that way every time a girl
or woman, even if it was her own daughter, showed affection to her
husband.

"Asuka-chan, don't be so possessive..." Shinji said softly,
reassuring her.

"I'm not possessive or anything!" she protested.

Teri smiled at her parents and disengaged from her father's
embrace, and then hugged her mother.

"Thank you, too, okaasan, for giving birth to me."

"Oooh..baka Teri-chan... " Asuka cooed, a bit surprised. It was
one of the first times that Asuka had been hugged by her daughter since
adolescence had made her self-conscious about showing affection to her
parents in front of people other than her family. The daughter she
cherished even during her pregnancy, the one who started all this...

"I'm not a burden, am I?" Teri asked, still hugging her mother
close.

"Why would you be? We've always loved you, and always will."

Everyone smiled at the touching scene. Her brother, who stood
silent until now, decided to speak.

"Uhm, I know we don't talk much about serious stuff, onee-san,
but if you ever need someone to talk to, well, I'm here, and I can help
by just lending an ear if you want to."

"That's some wise thinking, Hiroyuki-chan," Asuka remarked.
Teri hummed, and went to her brother, hugging him close as well, much to
his surprise.

"You deserve a hug, too, Hiro-chan," she said, giving him a peck
on the cheek.

"Well, shall we go have dinner? I'm kind of hungry," said
Misato with a gentle smile.

"Ah, too bad Kaji-san saw me like this, I wanted him to first
see me in that sexy red dress I bought today..." she sighed, half- joking. Shinji blushed hard, while Misato fumed.

"Asuka!!"

"Heh heh, just kidding."

"I'll walk back home with my friends, if you don't mind,
okaasan." Teri announced.

"I don't have any objections to that. Do you, Shin-chan?"

"None at all, Asuka-chan."

After Misato and Kaji got into their car to get ready to leave
for the Ikaris' apartment, Teri saw Rei say something to them, and then
roll down her window, look directly at her and then smile.

"It's good to see you again, Teri-chan. You've really growing
up. I'll see you a little later," she said, in her soft but clear
voice. Her curt manner took Teri a little aback, but, since she knew
what Rei was originally like from what her parents had told her, she
understood that this meant that she also cared very much about her.
After Rei rolled her window back up, both cars pulled away, leaving Teri
with her friends. After a gentle group hug, the four began to walk back
towards her apartment.

"Well, too bad about the karaoke, huh? You scared us a bit, you
know?" Sakuya said, smiling. Teri still felt a bit uneasy.

"We're sorry for what we said, but we didn't know you had
abilities like that. Come to think of it, it's...cool?"

"Cool...?"

"What else can you do, Teri? I'm curious!" Akari asked, looking
at her.

"Hmm, if I told you, you'd be scared of me again..."

"C'mon Teri, we're not going to freak out or tell anybody else."
Yukino tried to reassure her.

Teri hesitated a bit before speaking.

"Well, as you saw, I can do lots of stuff...like moving objects,
and, hmm, reading minds, and travelling into people's dreams when I
sleep too..."

"R...Reading minds?" Sakuya asked. "So you can see what we're
thinking right now?"

"Well, there's some limitations. I can't do it to anyone or at
any time at will. I don't know why it's like that, but if you ask me,
it's better that way. I don't want to hurt people by reading what they
think. I wouldn't want that to happen to me. It'd be kind of like...
violating their trust, you know? I just wish I could have known Brand
was going to leave Japan so soon..."

Teri looked down and a single tear slid down her cheek. Sakuya
quickly but gently wiped it away with one of her fingers, surprising the
young Ikari.

There was a pause as they walked.

"Listen, Teri. Once, Love asked Friendship, 'Why do you exist,
when you can only do a little of what I'm able to do?'" Sakuya began.
Teri looked curious.

"And, what did Friendship say?" she asked.

Sakuya smiled broadly at her, supported by the two other friends
at her sides.

"'I exist to dry the tears that you make flow.'"


* * *
THE END
* * *


Author's notes:

I know I've been saying that I wouldn't write any more Eva fanfic, but
what can I say now? I couldn't leave this idea unexploited. Now I can
get back on work on "Love Hina: Keitaro's Journey to Hell." Heh heh :)

Did anyone find all the references to (mainly) recent anime in this fic?
There are six of them! :)

Many thanks to Myssa for all the support she gave me, as well as some
ideas and pre-pre-pre-reading advice :)


Retooler's notes:

I wish to offer my utmost apologies to Axel and everybody else involved
with "Gifts" for taking so damn long to do my thing with it. There are
some people who find it fortunate that reading for a while makes them
sleepy. I'm not one of them. In cases like this (and watching
subtitled anime), I think it sucks, because it quite obviously slows me
down; another result is that I'm also less than halfway through the
fourth Harry Potter book that a friend lent me, and she's getting kind
of mad at me for taking so long with *that*! I finally decided to just
get as much coffee down my neck as I could get my hands on and finish
"Gifts" once and for all. I hope that you all found it worth the wait,
and that you'll forgive me for my procrastination. Back to you, Axel.


* * *

OMAKE
(with two more current anime references for your pleasure!)

"Hey, young lady! Wanna have some tea with me? I know a good
place--" a man called out to her from under an umbrella. However, the
look Teri gave the man froze him to stone.

"Don't bother me, pervert. I'm not into bondage or any sick
stuff like that, so go away before I call the police." She spoke in a
very dark tone that scared him to death. How did she...?

"H...Huh? How...?"

"Go away. Now." She looked like she was about to start
shaking--or pulling out a knife--because of the pure hatred she felt
towards the man.

From the top of a building, a gunshot could be heard. The man
who had just been accosting Teri was suddenly dashed onto the sidewalk,
surprising the girl. Sakuya was on the rooftop of the building, aiming
a gun towards the fresh corpse. Her look was one of pure concentration;
a girl who could kill without feeling anything about it. A perfect
assassin...

Sakuya then shook her head and sighed in relief, her task
complete. She then turned around to another man who was under holding a
umbrella, and ran up to him happily.

"Are you pleased, onii-sama!!?"

* * *

Okay, this is it this time. Really.

Axel Terizaki.