Disclaimer: See Chapter 1.

Evangelion/Dual Crossover: In the Hands of a Real Hero

Chapter 3: Clues and Lies

Simulation Lab, Launch Center in the southern end of Saitama Prefecture north of Tokyo

Commander Sanada, Commander Rara, Captain Schwael, Lieutenant Sanada and about a half a dozen other technicians and system support members stood in a semi-circle around Senior Research Scientist, Kauro Hayase, waiting for her to begin her report.

Turning from the computer console to face her audience, Hayase began, "Based on satellite images taken at the time of the accident, along with sensor analysis taken both here and at Tokyo and Kei Universities; we've been able to formulate this simulation of what we believed happened during the launch exercise." Everyone looked at the giant monitor against the wall, which showed both Saitama and Kanagawa Prefectures. As the simulation ran a bright light first appeared down near Hakone, then seconds later an even brighter light appeared at the Launch Center. It lasted about 15 seconds and then was gone.

Everyone just stared at the blank monitor for a moment.

Hayase typed in some additional commands. "Here it is from ground level," a moment later, she was done, "from 10 kilometers southeast of Hakone." The simulation ran. Again the electro-magnetic disturbance first appeared near Hakone, and then a few seconds later a much larger one appeared in the distance at the Launch Center.

"Here it is at half speed this time." This time they could see that the EMD was actually originating underground. What was seen was just the top portion of the EMD. Then something else became visible that had escaped their attention before. A thin stream of light seemed to rise from the EMD source and streaked through the air in the direction of the Launch Center. It appeared to disappear high in the atmosphere only to reappear over the Launch pad and then the EMD that engulfed Zinv appeared.

"Oh my god," Mitsuki Sanada gaped. "They are connected; but why couldn't we see it from the overhead view?"

"Atmospheric interference." Hayase ended the simulation and turned to face her audience. "It distorted and disguised the connecting thread. As you saw even in the ground view, the stream seemed to disappear high in the atmosphere then reappear as it approached the Launch Center."

Addressing his senior researcher, Commander Sanada said, "Thank you Hayase-san. If it's not too much trouble, I'd like a full work up of every possible angle at one quarter speed, half speed and full speed."

"Not a problem, Commander. I can have it for you in six hours."

"Very good." He turned and headed for the exit. Everyone except for Hayase, followed.

"So what does this tell us?" Captain Schwael asked.

"Well, we now know that there is some connection with the EMDs that have been occurring near Hakone but other than that, nothing right now. Hopefully, we'll learn more in 6 hours."

"Where are we going now?" asked Mitsuki.

"To inspect Zinv, of course," answered Commander Rara.

"Yes," added Commander Sanada. "The activation of Zinv is somehow tied into all this. We need to take a closer look at him. He may hold the key to Kazuki-kun's disappearance."

"Mitsuki," her father addressed her. "I want you to go over to the hospital and see if our visitor is ready to answer some questions. See what he knows but be gentle with him. The boy's been through a rather traumatic experience already. I'm sure he's frightened and confused so be patient with him."

"Yes sir," she answered then she turned and went in the opposite direction of the others.

"Are you sure Mitsuki-san is the best choice for interrogating the lad?" Rara asked.

"I'm sure Mitsuki is up to the challenge, besides I don't think the boy will have anything to hide," replied her father.

"That's not what I meant. I mean, do you really believe she won't scare the boy half to death?" the shorter man clarified.

"Mitsuki?" Sanada considered this for a moment. "Mmm, perhaps you're right. Yayoi-san, why don't you go with Mitsuki and just make sure she doesn't… go too far."

"Yes sir." She saluted and turned; jogging down the hall to catch up with her subordinate.

.

At Saitama General Hospital, Mitsuki Rara was dressed and ready to leave. The attending physician had discharged her 30 minutes earlier and now she was just waiting for the nurse to show up with the wheelchair to take her to the exit. While she could walk on her own, it was hospital policy to wheel out all patients, so she waited for the nurse, every few seconds, checking her watch. Suddenly, a thought came to her and she got up and walked to the door. Opening it slowly she stole a glance down the hallway. The elevators were by the nurse's station but the stairs were just a few feet away. Thinking quickly she looked around the room until she found a rubber band. She stepped into the bathroom, and used her fingers as a comb to brush her hair back, and used the rubber band to pull it into a ponytail. Then she headed for the door and took a quick look over at the nurse's station again. No one was in her view so she walked quickly towards the stairs. Once in the stairwell she made her way down. She remembered hearing Mitsuki Sanada and her father talking about the boy that appeared in Zinv after the EMD, yesterday, and how he was on the third floor.

"What room was that again?" As she walked out of the stairwell and down the hall, she spotted a U.N. Security Officer standing outside a patient's room. "That must be it," she whispered to herself. She hoped he was relatively new or perhaps not even assigned to the Launch Center. If he wasn't from the Base, her plan might just work, she reasoned.

Mitsuki headed straight for the door ignoring the security guard entirely until he spoke. "Excuse me, ma'am, this room can only be entered by authorized personnel."

She stared at him as if he were the most insignificant of insects, wondering whether she should pluck him apart lime by lime or simply squish him and be done with it. The guard recoiled at the strength of her stare and nearly crumbled when Mitsuki Rara did her best Mitsuki Sanada impersonation. "And who do you think I am?"

"I… I don't know, ma'am," his voice trembled and cracked.

"I'm the commander's daughter and assistant, First Lieutenant Mitsuki... I'm here at the request of my father, the commander. Now step aside, I don't have all day."

"Y..yes ma'am, sorry ma'am. I didn't know." His voice cracked again and he quickly side stepped out of her way.

"Well, now you do." She eye-balled him again. No she wouldn't squish him this time, he was far too insignificant to bother killing but too annoying to ignore. "Don't let it happen again," She brushed passed him and into the room.

Once inside, she let out a sigh of relief and let her shoulders slump just a bit. She hated the idea of lying. But technically, she didn't lie. She identified herself as the commander's daughter and said her name was Mitsuki. All that was true, though did did say she was a lieutenant and in that way tried to pass herself off as Sanada's daughter and not Rara's daughter. But as long as it got her where she wanted to be and right now, where she wanted to be was here, in this room with a chance to find out what happened to her Kasuki. The luxury of letting her guard down lasted only a second. She looked over at the bed and the small figure in it that began to stir, Mitsuki steeled her resolve, and walked over to him. Standing at the side of the bed, she looked down at the sleeping boy. He's so young, probably 13 or 14 only. Hardly what I'd consider a spy or foreign agent, but I have to find out. I have to find out where Kazuki-kun is, if anyone has taken him. I have to know. She shook the boy's shoulder, not so gently till he began to stir once again, but he still remained asleep. Her patience quickly evaporated and she shook him more roughly until his eyes fluttered open.

It took a moment for his mind to register that he was no longer in the streets of Tokyo3 as he bolted upright. "Where am I?" he asked.

"In the hospital," Mitsuki Rara answered plainly.

"Hospital?" He looked down for a moment as if taking inventory of himself to determine if he was injured in anyway. Not feeling any pain, he turned to his visitor and asked, "What happened to me?"

"I'll be asking the questions around here," the stern looking woman snapped.

"Oh, sorry." He lowered his head in fear and shame.

"What is your name?" she asked.

"Aw, Shinji, Shinji Ikari," he answered.

"Where are you from Shinji Ikari?" she continued.

"Well, you see, I've been living with my teacher, i-in Osaka, b-but my father sent for me. S-so I came to Tokyo3 right away," he answered.

"Tokyo3? You mean Tokyo, right?"

"Tokyo? Tokyo's under water, why would I want to go there? No, my father works at Tokyo3,"

"And where exactly is Tokyo3?" Mitsuki's patience was running short.

"In the south end of the Kanagawa Prefecture, near Lake Hakone." He stared at her with a surprised look on his face. "Why don't you already know this? Where am I? And who are you?"

Ignoring his questions, she went on. "Where is Kazuki Yotsuga? What have you done with him?" she yelled.

"I…I don't know anyone named, Kazuki Yotsuga." He cringed in fright as her anger flared in her eyes.

"Who are you working for? How did you get inside Zinv?" She reached out and grabbed him by his hospital gown and shook him violently. "Answer me!"

"I don't work for anybody. I'm just a junior high student. I-I've never heard of a Zinv, h-honest." Cold sweat streamed down the boy's face and he placed his hands on her wrists, trying futilely to pull free.

"You're lying! What did you do with Kazuki? Who do you work for? TELL ME!" she demanded.

"I told you I don't know any Kazuki!" he pleaded.

"Liar!

As the two female officers approached the hospital room where their visitor was, the guard did a double take then began sweating profusely.

Yayoi flashed her ID. "I'm Captain Yayoi Schwael and this is Lieutenant Mitsuki Sanada. We're here to see the boy in this room."

"Aaah, excuse me but…how many daughters does Commander Sanada have named Mitsuki?" The guard's voice cracked three times.

"What?" replied, a confused Sanada.

Suddenly, shouting could be heard from inside the room. The two women flashed a look at each other, coming to the same conclusion in an instant. "Mitsuki-chan!"

They flung the door open to find Mitsuki Rara shaking the boy roughly and screaming at him. The boy looked to be in total shock. His eyes were as large as saucers and showing the type of fear neither had seen from anyone in a long time. The guard responded first. Rushing into the room, he grabbed Miss Rara from behind and pulled her away from the bed. This almost caused the boy to fall out of the bed since she refused to release him. It was only the quick reaction of the other two women that kept the boy from hitting the floor.

"Let me go!" Rara screamed. "Let me go!"

"Not until you tell me who you are." The guard countered.

"Officer, this is Mitsuki Rara." Yayoi told him. "She is the daughter of the commander, just the other commander."

"I see ma'am, but I'll have to take her into custody," the guard informed her.

"What the hell for?" Rara screamed, still struggling to break free.

"Because you falsely identified yourself and though I may be new, I do know that you are not a member of the UN staff." He growled at her as he struggled to make his way out the door.

"Officer," Yayoi addressed the guard. "Release her. I'll take her into custody, myself."

"But ma'am-" he started.

"Captain," she corrected him sternly.

"Ah, yes Captain." He let his captive go. "Will there be anything else?" he asked.

"No, you may wait outside." Yayoi told him.

As Mitsuki Sanada tried to calm Shinji down, Yayoi grabbed the other Mitsuki by the elbow and pulled her aside and whispered curtly, "What were you thinking, coming in here pretending to be Sanada's daughter?"

Rara met Yayoi's harsh gaze. For a moment, she didn't flinch but only for a moment. "I-I have to find out where Kazuki-kun is. I have to." She covered her face with her hands as she began to weep. Yayoi sighed and put her arms around the young woman, bringing the girl's head to rest on her shoulder. "There-there, everything's going to be all right. We're doing everything in our power to find Kazuki-kun and bring him back home."

Mitsuki nodded her head slightly, accepting Yayoi's comfort and acknowledging her claim as truth.

"Come on, lets go get a cup of coffee, and I'll tell you what we've learned so far. Okay?" the older woman said in a reassuring voice.

Finally getting control of herself, Mitsuki stopped crying and nodded once again.

Turning to her companion, Yayoi said. "I'm going to take her to get some coffee. I'll be back in a little bit."

"Okay." Mitsuki Sanada nodded then turned back towards the boy sitting before her.

As the other two women left, she went on to say. "So are you all right?"

"Yeah, I think so," Shinji said, his fear still quite evident.

"I'm sorry about what happened, but that young woman just lost her fiancé and it seems you are the only real clue we have concerning his whereabouts."

"M-me?" He looked at her in shock.

"Mmm, hmm. By the way, my name is Lieutenant Mitsuki Sanada, but you can call me Mitsuki." She smiled.

"H.. hi Mitsuki-san. My name is Shinji Ikari." he said timidly.

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Shinji-kun." She extended her hand, which caused him to flinch for a second, but then he reached out as well and shook it.

.

.

NERV

As Commander Gendo Ikari walked through the corridors of NERV, heading for the exit, Sub-Commander Fuyutsuki relayed to him data taken from the battle earlier that day.

"It's a good think Shinji was able to activate Unit 01 when he did." Fuyutsuki observed. "For a moment there, I didn't think he was going to be able to do it."

"THAT was not Shinji," Gendo replied.

"What! Are you sure?"

"I may have only seen my son once in ten years, Kouzou but I know my son's personality. And that was most definitely not it. He would have never spoken back to Ritsuko or the Captain that way," the commander pointed out. "No, my son is a coward. This boy has a spine."

Bastard. If the boy lacks courage, it's only because you robbed him of it. The sub-commander held his tongue.

"This boy has courage and resourcefulness to spare," Gendo continued.

"But if we don't know who he is, doesn't that make him a security risk? Should we place him under arrest?" the older man asked.

"No. He's pretending to be Shinji for a reason. Let's keep an eye on him for the time being. If he does anything to endanger the Evas or this facility then arrest him but otherwise let him be. Perhaps his own actions will reveal his true identity to us." Gendo stopped at the exit. "I'm going to check on Rei, see that the doctor's report is on my desk when I return."

"Will you be checking in on the imposter as well?" Kouzou asked.

"That may prove interesting." A small smirk crossed his lips. "By the way, until his true identity is revealed, refer to him as Shinji and tell no one else."

"What about your son?" The older man added.

"What about him?" the commander replied.

"Well, shouldn't we be looking for him?"

"Why? We have someone who can pilot Unit One. That is all that matters."

"Understood." The two men went their separate ways.

.

Hospital room, Tokyo3

Slowly the young man opened his eyes. The stark white ceiling and pale white light filled his field of vision. "Where am I?" he whispered weakly. The smell of disinfectant provided him with an answer. "Hospital. I must have blacked out." Carefully, he sat up and scanned the room confirming his suspicions. Taking a deep breath, Kazuki looked down at his arms and chest. "No monitors or IV. Guess it wasn't that serious. Must have been just for observation." Tossing the blanket aside, he swung his legs over the edge and stood up. "Head is clear, balance is good." Spotting his clothes on the chair next to the bed, he walked over and gathered them up. "No reason to stay in this hospital gown." But taking a good whiff of himself, he decided. "Guess I could use a shower first. I smell like blood." With his clothes under his arm, he headed for the bathroom.

Thirty minutes later, Kazuki walked out of the hospital room fully dressed with his hair still damp and uncombed. Walking over to the window, he looked out over the city or at least the portion visible from the hospital. From here, it didn't appear as if the battle had caused much damage to the city at all. His stared pensively, at the city he just saved. How will I get back home this time? Home to you, Mitsuki. This is an alternate universe all right but not a parallel one. At least I don't think so. I'll have to check the city records to see if an alternate me or Sanada or Rara exist here. And what are these… these Angels they are fighting? I got lucky today. I was able to activate the Eva because of Zinv; I'm certain of it, but will he be able to help me again in the future? Someone has to battle those things and I'll be damned if I let that… that Commander Ikari make that innocent girl do it. Rei… pretty name, Rei. Means soul. Strange color hair and eyes but they look good on her. Kinda like Dee. The boy's eyes went wide. Like Dee. Could she be?

Kazuki was roused from his thoughts by the sound of a gurney being wheeled by. He turned to see the very person he was just thinking of pass by. Rei. He broke into a light jog to catch up to the gurney. "Excuse me, where are you taking her?" he asked the orderly.

"Back to her room. She just finished having some tests done," the orderly answered.

"May I accompany her?" Kasuki asked politely.

"I guess," the second orderly responded apathetically.

On the elevator ride up to the floor where Rei's room was, Kazuki spoke to Rei. "How are you feeling Rei-san?"

"Do I know you?" she asked, staring at him through the one eye that was not bandaged.

"Well, we met just briefly." He smiled. "I'm… I'm Shinji, Shinji Ikari," he lied.

"The commander's son?"

"Yeah, the commander's son." A big stupid grin crossed his face as beads of sweat formed on his brow.

"When did we meet?" she inquired.

"Ahhh, well, earlier today. At…" He looked up at the two orderlies who were standing, staring at the floor indicator. "I'll tell you later." He smiled. "All that's really important is how you are feeling."

"I am not in pain at the moment," she replied passively, just above a whisper.

"Well, no pain. That's a good thing." Kazuki continued to smile.

Moments later, they exited the elevator and proceeded to Rei's room. The orderlies moved her from the gurney to her bed then left. Kazuki stood next to her bed. She looks so helpless, so frail.

"Is there something you want from me?" asked Rei.

"Oh." The boy went wide-eyed. "N…no I… I just thought you might like some company. Lying in a lonely hospital room hour after hour can get pretty boring."

"I am accustomed to solitude," she replied.

"Really? What about your family? Do both of your parents work?" he asked.

"I have no parents. I live alone," she answered.

"Alone? How old are you?" Concern for this person grew within Kasuki with each exchange.

"I am fourteen," she responded.

"Fourteen and living on your own. Don't you think you're a little young to be living by yourself?"

"I have lived on my own for a year now. Nothing has ever happened to me."

"But just because nothing has happened yet, doesn't mean, nothing will in the future."

"It is of no consequence."

"How can you say that? Wh…who is your guardian?" he insisted.

"Commander Ikari," she answered.

Why doesn't that surprise me? I'm learning to dislike this commander, more and more each passing moment.

As if on queue, Gendo Ikari walked into the room. Taken aback only for a second to see the pilot of Unit 01 in the room, he quickly put on a false appearance of happiness as he walked over to the opposite side of Rei's bed from where Kazuki was. "Just the two people I was looking for. How are you, son?" He stared at the boy.

Kazuki stared back for a moment before replying. "I'm fine. Just fine…f-f-father. Thank you for asking."

Turning his attention to the girl in the bed his smile seemed to become a bit more genuine. "How are you feeling, Rei?"

"I am feeling better. I am sure I will be able to leave the hospital and resume my duties shortly," she responded with an enthusiasm that was previously non-existent.

"Well, the doctor said you will need at least 20 days to heal fully, so be sure to get your rest during that time."

"Very well, commander." She relaxed a bit.

Looking back at the boy, he continued. "I see you're getting to know our newest pilot."

"Your son is the Third Child?" she asked.

"Yes, and he performed admirably today."

"So the Angel was defeated?" asked Rei.

"Yes, Shinji here made short work of it. You were most impressive, son." He stared at the boy like he was observing a bug under a microscope.

Averting his eyes, the boy replied. "Thank you. I just tried my best is all."

"Yes, tried your best." Kazuki could tell by the way the man repeated his words, somehow he didn't quite believe him.

An uneasy silence settled over the room when suddenly Captain Katsuragi entered. "There you are, Shinji-kun. I've been looking all over for you. Oh, Commander-san, I wasn't expecting to see you here."

"Captain Katsuragi, what brings you here?"

"I came to take Shinji-kun to the barracks. He has been discharged already," she answered.

"I see. So you're staying at the NERV barracks?" he asked the boy.

"You arranged his accommodations, sir. Don't you remember?" Misato gave the commander a curious look.

"Obviously not." Turning to the boy, he asked, "Would you prefer to stay at my apartment?"

Kazuki grew wide-eyed and broke in to a cold sweat. "I-I don't think that would be such a good idea," he replied.

"Perhaps you are right. Ten years is a long time." Turning to the captain, an idea crossed his mind. "Captain, would you mind being Shinji's guardian?"

"SIR?" Misato looked like she was just hit in the face with a frying pan.

"My son is new in this city and could use some guidance."

"Umm, sure? My apartment has two extra bedrooms, I don't see why not." She grinned.

"I don't want to put you out, Misato-san," the boy interrupted.

"No, don't be silly. It's no problem, really." She waved her hand, dismissing his protest as the silly grin on her face grew.

"Well, if that's the case." Kazuki looked down at Rei. "Can Misato-san be Rei-san's guardian as well, Father-san?"

Three hard stares blasted the young man. If a stare were a tangible thing that could be felt, he would have been sent flying threw the wall.

"That is not necessary," Rei responded first.

"Rei is correct. She is fine on her own." The commander followed.

"Well, no sense in arguing." The captain continued to grin stupidly.

"I disagree." Kazuki stared at the commander. "In her present condition, Rei-san will obviously need help with even basic personal care. With the captain and I around to help her, she will be able to manage much easier."

"This issue is not open to discussion." Without another word the commander turned and left the room.

The door barely closed when Kazuki rushed out after him.

In the hallway he called out. "Commander-san, why do you want Rei-san to be on her own? It doesn't make sense. She's only fourteen years old. She needs adult supervision."

"You would do well to end this line of reasoning. The matter is closed."

"But if our primary objective is to defeat the angels, wouldn't it make sense to have all the pilots and our immediate superior living and working closely together… in order to improve overall team performance?" Kazuki offered, remembering Commander Sanada's reasoning for having him and Dee move into the commander's house along with Mitsuki back in the parallel universe.

The commander came to a halt. "You won't stop till you get what you want, will you?"

"Not when I know I'm right," replied Kazuki.

"Very well, I will send the forms to the captain later today. I just hope this isn't some adolescent attempt to find a girlfriend." Gendo shot the boy an accusing stare.

"I just want what's best for everyone." Kazuki glared at the commander.

"Sooo… Rei-chan… how are you feeling?" Misato finally asked after several minutes of silence between the only two occupants in the room.

"I am without pain at the moment," the blue-haired girl responded.

"Well, no pain is good." Misato looked at her watch, anxious to leave or at least to leave the room but afraid to step out into the hallway and into the middle of a father/son argument.

Just then Kazuki walked back into the room, his spirits noticeably lighter than when he left. He walked over to Rei and told her, "I checked with the front desk. They said they plan on keeping you here for at least a week for treatment and observation. That will give us plenty of time to move your things to Misato-san's place."

"What?" Misato yelled with a stunned look in her eyes.

"The commander approved this arrangement?" asked Rei.

"Yes, he did. Enthusiastically, after I explained the benefits of having team members living together." He smiled.

"What benefits?" the captain asked skeptically.

"As we learn each others habits and behaviors in our daily lives we will learn to better function as a team when fighting the angels," he replied.

"And how do you know this?" she continued.

"I… I wrote a paper of the subject of teamwork for school last year. My teacher said it was one of the best reports he had ever read in all his years of teaching." He smiled. Okay, that's laying it on a little thick.

"Is that right?" Misato stared at Kasuki. "Well, if you're done here I guess I should take you to your new home."

"Can you give me a minute?" he asked.

Looking at Rei then back at the boy, she replied, "Sure but don't take too long. Later, Rei-chan."

"Farewell, Captain-san." The girl watched the Operations Director walk out the room before turning her attention to the boy.

With the captain out of the room, Kazuki fixed his attention on Rei. "I hope you're not upset that I persuaded the commander to have you move in with Misato-san and me?"

"If this is the commander's wish, then I shall obey," she replied softly.

"But you're not happy about it?" he inquired.

"I have no feelings either way concerning the matter."

"Okay… well, I'll see you tomorrow then, all right?" He smiled.

"Why?" she asked plainly.

He was taken aback slightly by her reply but then he thought, Dee, just like Dee. "Because you are my fellow pilot and as such, I am concerned for your welfare."

"For the success of our mission." She reasoned.

"No, for your well-being." He corrected.

Her eyes grew slightly larger, as she stared at him, at his eyes. "Look into my eyes," she said.

"Excuse me?"

"That is what you said to me in an effort to get me to stop focusing on the pain. You told me to look deep into your eyes."

"Yes, that's right. You remember now. That's great." The boy smiled.

"Look into my eyes now, Pilot Ikari-san," she demanded.

Slowly his smile vanished as he obeyed her instruction, leaning in closer to give her a clear view into his eyes.

Rei in turn focused entirely on his eyes, staring deeply as if searching for something, something hidden, something that had once been revealed to her if only for an instant. Slowly it came into focus, a powerful image, a frightening image. And as it became clearer she was certain she saw its one eye flash green, just for an instant. She gasped and turned away. Her sudden reaction caused Kazuki to blink and look away as well.

Returning his attention to her, he asked, "Is something wrong, Rei-san?"

Slowly, she turned back to face him again. "Wrong?" She considered his question for a minute, then replied, "No. Nothing is wrong. Not at this time."

"Okay, well, I'll see you tomorrow then." He smiled.

"If you deem it important?" she responded.

"I do."

"Tomorrow then." She closed her eyes and allowed sleep to overtake her or at least he thought she did.

Smiling, the boy turned and walked out of the room. With the door closed, Rei gradually opened her eyes. "What are you, Shinji Ikari?"

.

.

In the main conference room at the Saitama Launch Center

"Lieutenant Sanada, please, your report." Her father instructed.

Mitsuki Sanada stood up and glanced at her notes, then proceeded. "The boy we found in Zinv after the accident is named Shinji Ikari. He is fourteen years old and has lived the past ten years with his teacher in Osaka. He was born June 6th." She paused. "2001." Then waited for the expected response.

"2001? How can that be?" Commander Rara shouted.

"He's from the future," deduced Commander Sanada.

"Exactly correct. In his world, it is the year 2015," Mitsuki explained.

"Amazing," Commander Rara marveled.

"There's more. On September 13th in the year 2000, a cataclysmic event occurred he called, Second Impact," she explained.

"Second Impact?" her father questioned.

"According to Shinji-san, a giant meteor struck the South Pole on that day resulting in the meltdown of the polar icecap. All coastal cities were flooded. The earth's axis was permanently altered and within three years nearly half the world's population was dead."

"How horrible," Hayase whispered.

"Shinji-san had just arrived in the city of Tokyo3 when the incident that sent him here occurred."

"Tokyo3?"

"Yes, apparently Tokyo was destroyed by the floods and is still underwater. A city was built a few kilometers way and was called Tokyo2. It still exists but for some reason another city was built in the southern end of Kanagawa Prefecture near Hakone Lake and was named, Tokyo3."

"So there is a connection!" the two commanders said in unison.

"What was he doing there in Tokyo3?" Hayase asked.

"Apparently, he was summoned by his estranged father whom he has not seen but once in the past ten years. His father is the head of an organization called Nerv. What Nerv does exactly or why he was summoned, Shinji-san doesn't know. Though according to his teacher, whatever it is that Nerv does, it is supposedly critical to the survival of the human race."

"Incredible, just incredible," Commander Sanada said.

"Shinji-san did give some indication of what Nerv may do. He said just before he was engulfed in a bright light he saw a giant monster of some sort." Mitsuki continued.

"Was it a robot?" Rara asked.

Mitsuki shook her head. "He didn't seem to think so. He thought it looked more organic than metallic. This was all we've been able to ascertain thus far without revealing too much about our world."

"So he has no idea he is no longer in his world?" her father asked.

"Not at this time. But I don't see how we will be able to keep that from him for very long." She added. "Daddy there's something else."

He looked at her with a surprised expression. She knew better than to address him in this manner at work, especially in the middle of a meeting like this but seeing the concern in her eyes he relented and asked, "What is it Mitsuki?"

"This boy, Shinji-kun. In the short time I was with him, I got the impression I was dealing with a very fragile psyche. His mother died when he was just three and he was abandoned by his father a few months later. The impression I got was that while his teacher provided him with a place to live, he didn't give him what every child needs."

"Love." her father said sadly. "What would you suggest Mitsuki?"

"Well… I don't know…" She looked down at her notepad on the table. "I just think he could use some understanding, some support right now." She looked up at her father. "Do you know what I mean?"

"Yes Mitsuki, I'll talk to your mother. I'm sure she won't mind." He smiled.

Mitsuki Rara who was sitting across from Mitsuki Sanada narrowed her eyes to small slits and clinched her teeth tightly.

"Well, that's my report." Mitsuki said then sat down and glanced around the room quickly to see if anyone had any further questions. When she made eye contact with Mitsuki Rara, she was taken aback by the glare the other girl was giving her, but she chose to ignore it for the time being since Rara didn't ask a question.

Pressing some controls on the A/V control panel at his seat, Ken Sanada lowered a large view screen. "This is footage from earlier today. This is what we recorded of Zinv's sudden activation."

The footage was a little shaky at first as the camera operator was rushing to set up since the giant mecha was already activated.

"As you can see, there is some type of energy field around it. Our attempts to open the hatch were unsuccessful. Also, we were unable to detect anything from within the cockpit. Our sensors were unable to penetrate the energy field at all. What we did detect were several sounds emanating from Zinv."

Commander Rara picked it up from there. "I had one of our analysts try and scrub the sounds to see if he could find anything distinguishable." Looking at his watch, he continued. "We should be hearing from him, shortly."

Just then the conference room communicator beeped. The commander pressed the ON button, "Yes?"

"We have completed the analysis of the sounds heard while Zinv was active, Commander-san."

"And?"

"Most of it was incoherent noise but two distinguishable phrases could be heard."

"Play them," Commander Rara instructed.

Though staticy and quite faint, they all were able to make out, "No you don't. You're not getting away from me this time."

The analyst said, "This was recorded at six minutes, fifty-five seconds after initial activation. The following was recorded at seven minutes, twenty-six seconds; just before Zinv deactivated."

"Thank you Zinv. I know you helped me do this. Thank you."

Everyone was silent for several moments. Finally, Commander Rara asked, "And have you been able to confirm who spoke those words?"

"Yes Commander-san, these words were spoken by Lieutenant Kazuki Yotsuga, there is no doubt. His voice patterns were a perfect match."

"Thank you lieutenant-san," The commander terminated the call.

Multiple conversations erupted; all sorts of speculations were being thrown around. The only person who remained silent was Mitsuki Rara who buried her face in her hands as she wept silently. Thank you god, thank you. My Kazuki is alive, he's still alive.

.

.

Tokyo 3

As they drove from the hospital, Kazuki couldn't help but feel a bit uncomfortable. Glancing over at Misato, he could tell she wasn't too thrilled with the prospect of having two new roommates. Or at least that's what he assumed.

"Misato-san, I just want to say, I'm sorry. I didn't mean for you to get caught up in a dispute between the commander and me," he finally said.

"Are you so uncomfortable around him that you prefer to call him commander rather than father?" she asked.

If you only knew the real reason. Well, if it will help divert attention for the time being. "Is it that obvious?" he finally replied.

"I guess I understand. I hated my father too," she answered.

Kazuki just turned away. He didn't know how to respond to such a revelation. Though he didn't have the greatest relationship with his father, he knew his father loved him and he loved his father. Besides, over the past year, Uncle Sanada was more like a father to him with his own parents overseas on business all the time. What warmth Kazuki's father may have lacked; Uncle Sanada more than made up for.

Repeating what Misato had said to himself, his eyes widened slightly. "Hated, does that mean you've resolved your differences with him?" he asked hopefully.

Misato was silent for just a moment before responding, "No, it means he's dead. He died at the South Pole on September 13th, 2000."

"Oh … sorry." He looked down at his lap. Stupid, you should have just kept your big mouth shut. He scolded himself.

"It's all right. Say, you don't mind if we make a quick stop at the market, do you?" his new guardian asked.

"No. Not at all," he replied.

"Good, we need to pick a few things up for the celebration." She suddenly smiled.

"Celebration?" He raised a questioning eyebrow.

"Of course, we need to celebrate your victory over the Angel and the arrival of my new roommate." She gave him a big toothy grin.

"I-I thought you weren't happy about the idea of having Rei and I move in with you." He stated with some hesitation.

"Well, to tell you the truth, Rei isn't the easiest person to get to know. She's kinda distant and cold but I've been thinking about what you said. How familiarity helps improve teamwork, and against the Angels, we're going to need every advantage we can get. So I figure this will be a good opportunity for all of us to get to know each other better."

Smiling wide, the boy responded, "I'm glad you think so. I'm sure we'll see positive results almost immediately."

"I hope so Shinji. I hope so."

"Well, we'll stop by some place along the way." Misato said as the road took them up the nearby foothill.

"Stop? Okay," Kazuki replied. He was anxious to inquire where but choosing to remain silent instead.

"This... is... a... good... place." She giggled as she pulled the car off the side of the road.

Getting out of the car, they walked over to the guardrail and looked out over the city. The sun was low in the horizon and a bright orange hue washed over the city.

"Seems peaceful like this. You can hardly make out the damage it incurred," the boy said.

Looking down at her watch, Misato said, "The time has come."

A loud alarm sounded that pierced the air and caused Kazuki to jump just a little. "What was that?" As if to answer his question, several of the buildings began to rise: 20, 40, 60 stories tall, some even taller.

"That's incredible! The buildings are growing! How? Why?" He shifted his gaze back and forth from the city and Misato.

"This is the fortress city for Angel interception, Tokyo-3," she said proudly. "Our hometown... and the town you protected."

Kazuki smiled at her. "Thanks. Thanks for bringing me hear and showing me this. Thanks for … well, thanks."

She just smiled at the boy for a minute then inhaled and said, "We should get going."

Nodding his agreement, the teen from another dimension turned and followed her back to her car.

As they exited the car, Kazuki said, "Here Misato, let me take those for you." He grabbed the grocery bags and followed her to the elevator of the apartment complex.

"You're sure helpful." She smiled.

"I try."

Walking down the hall toward her apartment, Misato said, "I think your stuff has arrived. Actually, I just moved into town the other day, myself." Stacked just outside her apartment were a few boxes belonging to Shinji Ikari. Reaching the door to her apartment, Misato swiped her card key threw the lock and opened the door. "Come in." She smiled.

Without hesitation or fanfare, the teenage boy walked through the doorway and down the hall. Turning the corner to enter the main room of the apartment, he gasped slightly. Well, Misato sure is no Mitsuki, Rara or Sanada. Not even Yayoi or Dee for that matter. "Wh-where's the kitchen?" he asked.

Walking up next to him, she pointed to the right, "over there," as she headed straight for her room. "Just put the stuff in the fridge." She called out.

"Okay," he replied as he headed in the direction she indicated. Walking in the kitchen, he saw the disaster that was in the living room was nothing compared to the mess in this room. "Hey Misato, I think you need to contact the Civil Defense League!"

"What for?" She yelled from her room.

"They handle natural disasters, don't they?" He grinned. "And what is that smell?" He added under his breath.

"Very Funny Shinji! HA HA HA!" She yelled sarcastically.

Laughing softly to himself, the boy took two items out of one bag and went to put them in the refrigerator.

Opening the door, he looked in and gasped for a second time. Then he straightened up and yelled, "Misato, ever hear of Alcoholics Anonymous?"

"Shinji, ever hear of the expression, Bite Me?" She hollered back as she walked out of her bedroom in a tank top and very short, shorts.

Catching an eyeful of his roommates considerably exposed flesh, the young man turned his head away quickly to hide the deep red shade his cheeks turned.

"Oh, it's okay, we're doing to make most of that stuff right now anyway." She grinned as she grabbed a few items from the bag and walked over to the microwave.

"Oh, okay." He set about taking the rest of the items out of the bags then he started cleaning off the table so they could eat.

A few minutes later their meals were hot and they sat to eat.

"Well, lets eat!" The scantily clad woman licked her lips with glee.

"Yeah, let's eat!" The boy smiled back, allowing himself a momentary glance at her cleavage before turning his attention to his food. "Mmm, this stuff is good," he said enthusiastically.

Grinning widely, the woman replied, "Hehe, I thought you'd like it. This instant stuff is pretty good." She took a big chug of beer, "Phaaaaaah Kwaaaaaah! Oh, my dear life! I just live for these times!"

Kazuki laughed. She's not so bad. I guess doing what she has to do, she's entitled to cut loose once in awhile. Downing the rest of his food in a matter of minutes, he asked. "Mind if I serve myself second?"

"Not at all. Serve as much as you like. Open another package if you need to." Misato replied as she took another drink.

Watching him for a moment as he sat back down and started eating again, she observed. "My, you do have a healthy appetite."

Looking up from his food, he caught another glimpse of her cleavage before meeting her eyes. "Well, i-it's been awhile since I last ate, and fighting that Angel really took it out of my." He smirked.

"That's fine. A growing boy like you needs his nourishment." Glancing at the way his shirt pulled at his shoulders, she added. "And looking at the way that shirt fits you; I'd say you've been growing a lot recently."

"Hmm?" The teen stopped eating long enough to look at the clothes he was wearing. While the shirt was slightly loose around the waist, it was noticeably tight across his chest and shoulders. The pants fit him around the waist, but they were very tight at the thighs and at least 50 mm of his socks were exposed below the cuff. "Yeah, well, I guess, I kind of neglected my wardrobe the past couple of years." He lied.

"And what about the rest of you clothes?" she asked, holding her beer can to her chin.

Thinking about that for a minute, he replied. "They're all pretty much the same."

"Well, I guess you can skip school tomorrow and we can get you some new clothes. I love a good excuse to shop." She grinned.

After they clearing it off, Misato grabbed a large white board and set it on the table. Then she grabbed a black magic marker and made an array on it. She labeled across the top the days of the week, and across the left side a list of daily chores. Kazuki watched her as she did this.

When she was done she turned to the boy and said, "Okay, I figure Janken is the fairest way to divide the weekly chores, don't you?"

He considered her question for a moment but before he could respond she begin. "Rock, Paper, Scissors!" He didn't lift his hand to participate as she flashed paper.

"What's wrong Shinji-kun?"

"No, no, this isn't the best way to divide the weekly chores," he finally replied.

"What?"

"I'm sorry Misato-san, but if I'm correct, isn't it your job as Operations Director, to come up with strategies for attacking and defeating the angels? You're a captain. I'm guessing you have some military background?"

"So what's that got to do with anything?" she retorted.

"Simple, you're well versed in strategy, in out thinking your opponents. What chance do I have in out thinking you even in a game as simple as Janken? Not much of one, I'd say." he answered his own question. "No, I think we should take a more logical approach to this." He turned the board around so it was facing him.

"I'm willing to guess that I'll have to go to school before you go into work, on most days at least." He extended his hand and Misato gave him the marker. "So I'll make breakfast." He wrote the name, Shinji, across the first line, from Monday through Friday. "But you'll probably be home in time to make dinner most days so." He wrote Misato across the second line, again just on the weekdays. "We can alternate that for the weekends." He did just that. "Garbage, we can alternate days." He wrote Misato's name in on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and Shinji on the other four days. "Finally, the bathroom. I suppose that can be the same as the garbage." He filled it in the same way. "See, now that is fair and equitable." He closed the marker and handed it back to his roommate.

Staring at the board, Misato commented. "I still think it would have been more fair using Janken."

"More fair for you perhaps, not for me." Kazuki stretched. "Well, I guess I'll bring my stuff in. Which room will be mind?" He asked as he walked out of the kitchen.

Taking a minute to hang the board up on the wall, Misato walked into the living room where the boy was already in the process of stacking up the few boxes that had been outside. "Well, you can take either bedroom I guess but I'd suggest you take the smaller of the two. A girl needs more space than a boy." she said, putting her hands on her hips.

Kazuki nodded. "You're right." He walked over to one room and opened the door. Looking inside, he took a mental note of its dimensions then he walked over the other bedroom and did the same. "I guess I'll take this one." Then he started moving Shinji's things into the room.

"My, I must say, you surprise me, Shinji-kun." She stated.

Picking up the last box, he turned towards her. "How so?"

"Well, with all that you've been through, I sorta thought you'd have a harder time adjusting to life here." She scratched her head.

How very ironic that you should say that. He grinned. "Well, it has been quite an adjustment, but I've always felt it was important to make the best out of whatever hand fate deals you." Then he turned and took the box to his new room.

She smiled back as she followed him into the room. "That's a really great attitude to take. I'm really glad to hear you say that." Looking about for a minute, she offered, "Would you like some help unpacking?" She crouched down next to a box.

"Hmm, no. That's okay; I wasn't going to unpack right now anyway. I'll do it later. Actually, I thought I'd take a short walk around the neighborhood." He forced a grin.

"A walk?" She stood back up and gave him a sideways stare.

"Yeah, well if I'm going to be living here, I should get familiar with my surroundings, don't you think?" He laughed.

"Well, I guess so. Just don't stay out too late. It's already dark out." She warned.

"I won't; just a couple blocks." He assured her as he gestured for her to exit the room and he closed the door behind him. "I won't be more then a half-hour, tops." He added as he walked down the hallway to the door. Before slipping on his shoes, he turned back and asked. "Misato, I was wondering, when I get back, can we talk… you know about the Angels and the Evas, and all. If I'm going to be fighting these things, I'd like to know as much about them as I can."

"Sure Shinji, when you get back." She smiled.

"Good." He returned the gift and turned to leave.

A moment later, Misato heard the door close. "What an amazing boy. I'd have never thought… Oh well, guess I'll take a bath before he returns."

Heading for the bathroom, her other roommate came waddling out. "Hi PenPen, did you miss me?" She bend down and hugged her pet penguin. The hot springs penguin squawked happily. "Mmm, that's a good boy." She patted it on the head and stood back up. "Well, it's mommy's turn to take a bath, so off you go." The bird squawked once again then waddled off.

Laughing softly she went into the bathroom.

"What a screwed up world." Kazuki said to himself. "Fortress city, angels attacking, maniacal commander, beer guzzling director, and Rei-san." He stopped at the intersection and looked around, trying to decide which direction to go. Finally settled in straight ahead, he crossed the street and continued down the block. "Rei-san. Who is she? Or perhaps a better question might be, what is she?" He pondered this question for a while. "She's probably part human at least. Maybe mostly human but there's something about her that is different, and I don't mean the blue hair and the red eyes either. That's different enough, but something about her personality." The image of the green-haired 14-year old back in his world popped into his head. "Dee-chan." He smiled.

Dee loved him like a big bother and he loved her like a little sister. They had been close during the war with the Rara Army but after the two worlds merged, and Dee became all human, their relationship really began to grow. She changed so much after the merge, but one thing that didn't change was her affection for Kazuki. If anything it just got stronger. She was so bubbly and alive now. Before Kazuki moved out of Tokyo and into the apartment in Saitama with Mitsuki, half the time he and Mitsuki went on a date, it was with Dee in tow. Mitsuki never complained, for she grew to love the young girl almost as much as Kazuki did, and like her boyfriend, began to see her as the younger sister she never had.

His mind's eye gave him a clear image of Dee's smiling face but slowly that image changed from Dee to Rei. "Rei-chan." He came to a stop. "I'll protect you, Rei-chan; from the angels, and from that madman they call a commander. No wonder Misato expected me, or rather Shinji to be all screwed up. With a father like that, who wouldn't be?" He checked his watch then kept walking. "So they want to use me for their war against these… these beings, these creatures. Fine, as long as I get to use them to find a way back home. We'll use each other, and meanwhile I'll keep Rei-chan safe and the commander placated."

"I've got to say. He really surprised me," Misato said into the cordless phone as she slipped a little further into the steamy water.

"How so?" Ritsuko asked on the other end of the line.

"Well, he's so mature and easy going, and he didn't fall for my Janken trick." the purple-haired woman answered.

"Really? He'll have to teach me that one." the blonde said.

"It wasn't anything extraordinary really; he just took the board and marker from me and filled it in logically. What's really something is it made perfect sense."

"Well, what about Rei-chan? She's going to be moving in with you soon too. Did he include her in it?"

"No, I'm guessing he doesn't expect her to do any of the house work while she's still recuperating. We'll probably change it after she's had a chance to heal."

"Don't count on it."

"Why do you say that?"

"Have you ever seen that girl's apartment?"

"No."

"Well, let me just say, it makes yours look clean by comparison."

"Well, I guess there's things we'll all need to learn."

"I guess. So what else was so surprising about Shinji?"

"Just his whole attitude. He's so upbeat and positive. So friendly, and he's got a real sense of humor. He's just, just…"

"Just what?"

"Just, so unlike his father."

"Well, it's not like the commander's been around to rise his son. He probably got a lot of his personality from her guardian."

"I suppose, but I met his guardian once. He didn't exactly exude warmth, if you know what I mean."

"So what are you saying? You'd rather he be a depressed, wallflower."

"No, of course not. I guess, I'm just saying I'm really amazed by his personality. That's all. The way he handled himself with the Eva; that was incredible. I felt bad, making him pilot the Eva like that, but he did it like it was something he was born to do, something he had done dozens, maybe even hundreds of times before."

Ritsuko gave a soft laugh.

"What's so funny?"

"Oh, nothing. I agree. He was quite amazing. If he can maintain that sync ratio at all times, he should be able to make the Eva do anything he wants, any time he wants. Shinji out performed Asuka's test results in every measurable category based on my preliminary analysis of the battle."

"That's not going to make Asuka happy when she finds out."

"That's why I'm classifying the results. We don't need her pissed off before she even gets over here."

"Good idea." Glancing up at the wall clock, Misato added. "Well, I got to go. I promised Shinji, I'd tell him what I know about the angels and the evas. I guess I can tell him the truth about Second Impact as well since that's were it all started."

"It all started at First Impact, but starting at Second Impact is probably good enough." Ritsuko countered.

"Whatever. I've got to go."

"See you tomorrow," the blonde replied and hung up the phone on her end.

Setting the phone aside, Misato sat up. "Shinji, you know we're using you, but you don't seem to mind. I know I should be happy that we defeated the angel, but I thought I'd feel bad for using you like a tool. Instead, I don't know how to feel. Are you really so selfless that you're willing to risk your life to protect the rest of the world? If so, you really are a natural born hero."