Let me ask you something. What would you do if you thought you had destroyed the world?

You have to understand. Just because I was at the center of it doesn't mean I understood it better than anyone else. At that point, I had never heard the words "SEELE" or "Instrumentality". I didn't know it was Third Impact. In what few moments I had to think, I thought I was going through something like what the 15th Angel did to Asuka. Mind rape, she called it.

It didn't seem so bad after a while, though. I got to talk to Rei and Kaworu again. Not a whole lot of what they said made sense. Not a whole lot of what I said made sense, for that matter. It was a lot like a dream in that way. I do remember that they gave me a choice, though. They let me choose: I could finally run away, run to a place where I would safe forever. Safe, where I couldn't hurt anyone and nobody could hurt me, because we would all be each other.

Or, I could stay. I could fight.I could keep on enduring the pain of existence, because life was worth living.

I was under a hell of a lot of stress at the time, but the choice was obvious even then. I had already learned, more than once, that running away never accomplished anything.

I remember one word-- "Congratulations"-- and then I was back in Unit 01. And Mom was there. I didn't remember what she looked like very well, but I recognized her immediately. She talked to me for a bit...I still don't remember what she said, exactly. Then she just faded away.

It was only later that I realized she looked like Rei. Of course she looked like Rei.

When I...woke up, I guess, I found myself in LCL. A big, unpleasant, sticky pool of LCL. When my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I realized it wasn't just a pool—it was a whole damn ocean. Shore wasn't far, thankfully, and at least the liquid was a hell of a lot warmer than ocean water in the middle of the night in December would've been. As soon as I got to the shore, I just laid down and fell asleep.

The next time I woke up, it was sunrise. And I was in hell.

It wasn't like anything like what hell must have looked like in my imagination, but it had to be hell. Tokyo-3, submerged in a crimson ocean that went as far as the eye could see. A bridge of blood across the sky, staining the moon. Those monstrous Evangelions, scattered about the scene, arms out as if hanging on unseen crucifixes. The thing with Rei's face...my mother's face...split in half, that nightmarish smile still apparent.

Rei was there, again. Just like when I first came to Tokyo-3. She was there, hovering over the water, and then she wasn't.

But Asuka was. Just laying there, next to me...I finally sat up. Her eyes were open. She didn't move. For a minute I thought she was dead. I wondered whether or not that was a bad thing. I stared at her. She didn't stare back; she just kept looking straight up. Then I saw her chest rise and fall. Just once. I stared a bit longer. Come on, Asuka. Look at me. LOOK AT ME! She didn't look at me.

I don't remember why I did what I did next. Maybe I was trying to make her into the corpse she was acting like. Maybe I was trying to feel her pulse and lost control. Maybe the hell around me had knocked down what was left of my sanity.

I don't think so, though. I think I just wanted to get her to respond. To let me know that there was at least one other person beside me in this nightmare.

She didn't, though. Not for...thirty seconds or so, I think. Maybe she wanted to die. She grimaced a bit, but still her eyes didn't move. Finally, ever so slowly, she raised an arm and touched my cheek.

I still didn't let go. I saw droplets of water fall on her face, and it wasn't raining. I finally loosened my grip, but my hands stayed around her neck, my thumbs still up against her windpipe. And still she didn't look at me. Her hand fell again as I finally let go, now barely able to stifle the sobs. Tear after tear fell on her plug suit.

After a few seconds, her eyes flicked downwards. An eternity passed. And then she spoke two words.

The tears went into full flow after that. I think I may have thrown up. Where the things that had happened to me over the last 24 hours seemed like a disconnected dream, suddenly they all clicked together. Why Asuka thought I was disgusting. Why I did it. Why she was in the hospital. What she was fighting. What they did to Unit 01. What it began. And what...I...chose...

I looked up from Asuka's still-blank face, gazing through tear-blurred eyes at the hell surrounding me. And I realized that, through whatever twist of fate had let me make that choice, I had done this. I was responsible.

I had ended humanity.


Ah, novelizations. It's like writing a story, only without having to make up the story!

In all seriousness, this fic is just meant to be an exploration of what's going on in Shinji's head when EoE reverts from "Hideaki Anno's acid trip" back to some sense of stability. If you can call what Shinji sees when he wakes up "stability". It's not intended to be a oneshot; I intend to add ORIGINAL CONTENT! and make it a sort of account of the first few days (or even weeks) after Third Impact.

Constructive criticism always appreciated.