The Children and the Fury
A Neon Genesis Evangelion Alternate Universe Fanfiction
by Andrew Aelfwine
All characters and situations of Neon Genesis Evangelion belong to their creators and publishers. I've merely borrowed them for this non-profit fanfiction.
Meg and her heart-sisters belong to themselves. No disrespect is meant.
Author's Note: I wrote this in 2005, and put it up on my Geocities page. After the shutting-down of Geocities, a gentleman by the name of Willbyr from the TV Tropes website requested me to put it up here at FFN, so here it is. Thanks much, Will! I'm delighted that somebody cared enough to ask me to make this fic available again.
In a place on the very cusp between Time and that greater reality beyond, there was a room. A small, dark, comfortable room, mostly taken up with a great canopied bed of carven wood. In that bed, three women slept nestled together. Their age was indeterminate-- one observer might have thought them barely more than children, while to another they might seem aged, and to a third in their prime. Their faces bore a resemblance, although one would have been hard pressed to judge if it was the born similarity of sisters or the grown similarity of those who have shared life and laughter and toil and tears. Their expressions were quite peaceful.
One stirred, and opened her eyes. For a moment, she lay still. Then, sighing at the necessity, she carefully extricated herself from her heart-sisters' sweet-smelling embrace. She smiled to see them huddle together, taking up the space she had left.
She stepped through the wall, into a marbled room with a pool of warm water sunk into its floor. Rose petals floated on the surface. Although unnecessary, the bath was comforting. She sank to the bottom, holding her breath for the pleasant pretense of it. The effect would have been spoilt entirely had she remained there too long, so after a minute she rose to the surface and floated on her back, eyes closed.
"Ah, there's no use putting it off, is there?" she said aloud at last, in an archaic Greek which wove its way through both her best and least beloved memories. She rose from the water, wrung out her hair, and began to braid it. She willed one of the walls into mirror-brightness, and fixed her own image in her mind: the clean brown hair and small firm breasts and solid hips, the strong smooth-skinned body, the hands strong and callused with honest work. Her true self, shared with her heart-sisters, not the cruel caricature she became on her missions.
At last she called to her uniform, and it came obediently to her. Not a cowled robe, this time, nor a mannish kilt and breastplate. Not heavy space armour, nor the fitted tunic and trousers which were/are/would be fashionable on a distant planet settled by Gaia's children in the third millennium of their diaspora. A long black coat, surplus from some unknown military, breeches and blouse of the same color, heavy calf-high boots, and a black beret. She looked at her reflection through gentle blue eyes and turned away. In the bedroom she paused to kiss her sleeping loves before walking through the opposite wall.
It was hot and muggy; had she truly been a mortal, her clothing would have been soaked with sweat within a minute. A few birds floated lazily through the air. She stood on a street corner in a great city, curiously empty of the crowds she remembered from other missions in similar settings. Maybe there was a war on.
She laughed a bitter professional's laugh. There was always a war on, somewhere in the world. She looked up at the looming buildings of concrete and glass and steel. They were ugly, but no uglier than many others; she'd seen hovels in the ruins of cities and palaces built by lords with more money than taste, in times that were both before and after this one.
She looked up at a sign, reading the foreign characters as easily as the Cretan syllabary or the Ionian alphabet; absently, she wondered what "Yebisu Beer" might taste like. She sniffed at the air, caught the scent of greed and murder, and went on her way, trying very hard not to look at her reflection in the shop windows.
Ikari Gendou sat in his office, fingers steepled on his desk, staring at the wall. Had someone seen him, they would have said he was deep in thought; had that someone known his reputation, they would have said he was planning the next battle against the Angels, or perhaps the next twist in his complex struggle against Seele.
But in truth, his mind was occupied with neither the otherwordly forces who warred on the Earth nor with the secret society whose dark agenda ran sometimes in unison and sometimes in counterpoint with his own. Rather, he was remembering a spring day some thirteen years in the past. It had been noted by his son, among others, that Gendou kept pictures neither of the wife he had lost nor of the child he had given up. Most of these observers assumed he was simply a heartless villain with all the human feelings of a mako shark.
While this last was in some degree true, it was not the cause of his failure to remind himself of the past with photographs. He simply didn't need them. Right now he could see the child in his wife's lap, the chubby toothless smile, the little hand that reached out to grab his fingers, the soft eyes of the only person he'd ever loved, the cherry blossoms blowing in the breeze...
He became aware that there was a woman in the room. Not a vision of Yui, such as he'd sometimes had, but a woman in black. Her face was scarred and weathered, her long hair the colour of dried blood, her fingernails sharp claws. Her blued-steel eyes were laser drills boring into his.
He settled back in his chair. "I presume you're from Seele, miss?" Quite casually his hand reached for the hidden drawer, the one with the gun in it.
"Who sent you? The JSSDF are a pack of buffoons-- I've known one of their agents for years, and the man is a joke, a character out of a bad anime show. The Americans and Russians are worse, and everyone else is out of the picture."
"I've nothing to do with any of them."
"Whom do you work for?"
"Fate. Justice. The forces of Good."
"Very funny. If you asked me about myself, I'd probably say the same thing." The drawer was sticking. Not that it really mattered; he could handle this maniac without any firepower at all. The silenced 10mm with its soft-pointed slugs was merely insurance. "Anyhow, Miss Force of Good, what are you here to do?"
"It's been tried."
"Only by humans." She was short, he noticed, barely a hundred and fifty-five. He felt a vague irritation with himself for the irrelevant thought.
"I could have sworn you were a human yourself."
"Appearances can be deceiving. And don't bother with your weapon; you can't get the drawer open, and even if you could it would be useless."
"Who are you?"
"My name is Megaera." She reached out; he felt an intolerable pain, as if his heart was being squeezed in his chest. "Yui..." he whispered.
The killer turned her back on his body and left the way she'd came. There were more prey to be found.
There were birds singing in the park. Ikari Shinji sat down on a bench to listen. It wasn't so much that he was fond of birdsong as that he had nothing else to do at the moment. No tests were scheduled at Nerv this afternoon, and if he went home there would be nothing but Misato snoring and Pen-Pen hogging the bathroom. His friends were with their families, while his fellow pilots had gone off on their separate ways: Rei to gods-knew-where and Asuka to the mall. He linked his hands behind his head and closed his eyes.
A weight settled down beside him on the bench. He wouldn't have cared if he hadn't felt the warmth of the body associated with that weight, sitting far too close to be a stranger. It was probably Asuka, happening by and deciding to play a trick. Not to wrap her arms about him and lay her head on his shoulder, of course; that only happened in dreams. He opened his eyes.
The person sitting next to him wasn't Asuka. Nor was it Misato. Nor Rei. She might have been his own age, or a few years older. Despite the heat of the day, she wore heavy black clothing of a vaguely military cut, like something an anime character might wear. She was looking directly at him, a smile of peculiar sweetness quirking her lips. "Hello?" he said cautiously.
"You can see me?"
Megaera sighed. A long day of hunting and killing was finally over. She had avenged billions of lives over the past several hours, but she felt like vomiting. Alas, that was one mortal comfort denied her. As was getting drunk.
The city was called Tokyo-3. She wondered what had happened to the first two. Probably destroyed and rebuilt-- mortals did that, although this habit of sticking numbers onto the end of the name was unusual. Usually they kept the old one, or else whoever had taken the place called it something completely different.
There was a small grassy space with trees and benches and a fountain, a welcome relief among the concrete. The wind brought the scent of growth to her, and she smiled, remembering happier times when she and her heart-sisters had gone in mortal guise, dancing in Arcadian meadows, swimming in brooks, sometimes finding a pretty and willing lad or lass.
As it happened, there was a fetching young fellow sitting alone. His hair was shorter than she liked, and she didn't think much of his dull clothes, but she quite fancied his face.
He wouldn't see her, of course; the mortals here didn't, save for her targets. She remembered a philosopher who'd talked of humans' ability to ignore whatever they knew didn't exist. It wasn't a bad thing; in other times she'd never get within a dozen paces, not in her present form. She would sit down beside him and rest for a moment.
He smelled nice. She'd move just a hair closer-- if he felt her at all, he'd only think there'd been a sudden current of air.
"Yes. Why shouldn't I?"
Her tone was incredulous. "Because at least fifty people today haven't."
"Oh." He realised that her face was heavily scarred. It wasn't right that people ignored her because of something she couldn't help. Touji-kun's sister was scarred because of his own incompetence. "I'm sorry."
She smiled. "It's not your fault." She had a nice voice. Maybe it was a little bit like what Asuka's would be if she weren't angry all the time. Or Rei's, if she had more emotion. Or even Misato's, if she were sober and unstressed.
They sat quietly for some minutes. Shinji pretended to watch the pigeons, all the while stealing quick glances at the stranger beside him.
She didn't often meet genuinely likeable people; it was one of the drawbacks of her profession. All the more reason to get to know this one. "So, do you come here often?"
He started like a horse at the sound of a broken branch. Perhaps this is one of those places where strangers don't talk much. "Not really."
"'Tis pity. It's one of the prettiest spots I've seen here."
Silly boy, ask me a question. He didn't. "So, are you from here?"
"I'm not, myself. Just passing through. What brings you here?"
"I didn't have anything else to do."
She laughed. "I meant to this city."
"Well... my father told me to come here..."
Why am I telling her all this? Shinji thought. It didn't make any sense; he'd never been much for opening up to people at all, particularly complete strangers. She was like... an old friend he'd never met before.
A flash of red drew his attention. "I'm sorry," he said quietly.
A sudden flare of anger lit up the ambient. Megaera's senses reached out to the adorable redhead at its center. Ah, I see. It's that girl he was talking about. The one with the temper.
"Whyever for?" she queried.
"She's going to throw a fit. You'll probably catch some of it."
"Not if I can help it," she said. Then, raising her voice, "Why don't you come over and join us? There's plenty of room."
Her eyes widened. "Excuse me?"
Megaera patted the bench. "Sit between us, why don't you?"
"Sit! I certainly don't bite, and I don't think your friend does, does he?"
"Ah, well, no..." the girl stammered as she settled into place.
She's off balance, so we'll just give her another little push to keep her there. "At least not hard, I suspect. Maybe you'd have a better idea?"
Both of them flushed. The effect was fetching.
"So, you're Asuka, right?"
"Call me Meg."
"Commander Ikari?" Ayanami Rei knocked at the heavy wooden door. There was no response. After a moment, she reached for the knob.
"Commander?" He was slumped over the desk. No wonder; he'd been very busy lately. Her business wasn't important enough to wake him. She sat down in a straight-backed wooden chair to wait.
Asuka giggled. It was a nice sound, very different to her usual mocking laugh. She really was cute.
And so was Meg, scars or no. Stop it, a small voice whispered inside him. Asuka's right when she calls you a pervert. It was bad enough when it was just her and Ayanami and Misato-san.
It had been nearly two hours. The Commander had a meeting that afternoon. She had best to wake him.
"Sir?" No response. "Commander Ikari?"
She laid her hand carefully on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Commander." He didn't like to be touched.
No reaction. She shook lightly. His head lolled to the side, eyes open. She had seen that look before, somewhere.
Meg smiled, and her battered face was a thing of radiant beauty. "Oh, Emil Fischbein Strasse! In Heidelburg? I've been there. Tell me, is that wonderful patisserie still in business?"
"The one across from Sankt Cornelius Kirche?"
"No, that was a gunsmith's when I was there. The place I'm thinking of was near the park. The one where the duels were fought, yes?"
Asuka blinked. Duels? Gunsmith? When was that? "I don't think I remember that one."
"It has been a long time. Tell me, does the one you were talking about make good linzertorte?" Meg draped her arm about her shoulders, and she forgot her puzzlement. No one had been this close to her in so long... not since Bernadette. It felt nice. Except something was missing. Before she quite realised what she was doing, she reached out and pulled Shinji against her other side. He resisted a moment before relaxing into her grip. That was better.
"Yes, but their creampuffs are the best." Shinji's arm slipped around her back. Much better. She'd never touched him before, except as a joke. That was a mistake: he was cuddly. She should have done this a long time ago. And maybe sometime soon she'd do something more. No! He's a wimp, and a pervert, and he'll tell those stupid boys everything, some tiny part of her mind screamed in a last desperate bid for life, before being squashed entirely. He isn't, he's not, and he won't. She rubbed her cheek against first his shoulder, then Meg's.
*One hundred one.*
*One hundred two.*
Rei counted the flights of stairs as she made her way out of the Geofront. She had passed five elevators as she made her way her way to this emergency exit.
"So," Asuka said, "what's brought you here, Meg?"
"How... mysterious," Asuka said. "But there's only one kind of business in Tokyo-3. Hmm.. are you a new pilot?"
"Didn't think so," Shinji said. "Eva pilots are, by definition, messed up. Meg, on the other hand, is practically sane. So..."
Asuka giggled. "I'll show you practically sane." She began to tickle him, just below his ribcage. "See? If I were insane, I'd be snogging-eee!" He counterattacked, finding the vulnerable spots just below her armpits. "If I were--ooo--insane, Ikari Shinji, I'd--haheeha--be snogging you senseless."
"Whereas," he said, catching her wrists in his hands, "if you were completely sane..." she let him mock-pin her against the bench.
"I'd be snogging you and Meg senseless."
Meg leaned close enough to whisper and be heard by both boy and girl. "So, let's see how sane you are, lovely Asuka."
The dim glow of a single fluorescent tube lit up the exit at the top of the stairs, barely overpowering the phosphorescent emergency markers. Rei pushed open the door and stepped out into the alleyway between a dim sum restaurant and the Tokyo-3 branch of the Banque Populaire de la Nouvelle Acadie. She stood for a moment in the shadows, letting her eyes adapt to the light, before making her way to the street.
Out in the sunlight, birds drifted overhead. A monorail glid by, the sound of its passage barely a whisper in the still air. She felt herself dehydrated. The park three blocks away had a water fountain.
Shinji knew that girls sometimes kissed each other. The boys at school whispered rumours about sleepover parties and snogging, and sometimes images made the rounds, by email and from hand to hand on scraps of glossy paper. Aida had a small collection from the centre sections of car magazines.
The pictures made him doubt the rumours; the girls in tiny bikinis and heavy makeup, high heels and too-small school frocks, all looked tired and bored, as if they were stocking shelves or dishing out ramen takeaway. Evidently, he'd thought, girls didn't like to kiss other girls.
This was nothing like the pictures. Asuka's eyes were closed, and her face was soft and relaxed. Meg's eyes were open, completely intent upon Asuka, and even the scars on her cheek were lovely in the soft light of afternoon filtered through trees.
She heard voices and laughter through the splashing of the park's small fountain. Two familiar voices, and another. Ikari and Souryuu and someone else. A female, their own age or a little older. An unfamiliar emotion ran through her, tensing the muscles of her belly and souring her stomach, making a tight knot in her breast. She had read the words "heart-ache," but they had never meant anything before.
Souryuu and Ikari... that was like a gun and ammunition, or the right hand and the left. Wanting one meant wanting both. But Souryuu and Ikari and... someone else? Someone else who wasn't Rei? Someone else who wouldn't want anything to do with a funny-looking red-eyed girl half the world thought was a vampire? Never.
She dabbed at her eyes with a sleeve. Her level of hydration was already sub-optimal. She wasn't going to walk away.
"Excuse me," someone said from behind him, the voice flat and angry. I'm sorry, Shinji thought for a moment. Then anger rose up in him. Why should he be sorry? For enjoying a lovely day and his two beautiful friends? Why should Asuka and Meg be sorry?
He was just about to turn, to snarl something, when he felt Asuka stiffen in the curve of his arm. "Rei?" she said. "What...?"
"Never mind." He recognised the voice now. Of course it was Rei. He'd never heard her speak with so much emotion before. "I'll leave now." He twisted about. Her red eyes were like the last embers of a funeral pyre.
"Don't," Meg said.
"Who are you?"
"Megaera. Of the Erinnyes. And who are you, daughter of Lillith and Adam and Eve?"
"They call me Ayanami."
"And these two are yours?"
"And did you ever tell them?"
Rei blushed. "No." Her voice was very soft.
He looked at Asuka, and she at him. A flood of memories clicked into place; glances and words, scores of apparently disconnected incidents that suddenly became a whole. "Yes," they said as one.
"So," Meg said, "would you like to come sit with us a while, Rei? That is... if you don't mind keeping company with someone as old and as ugly as me."
"No," Rei said, "you're beautiful." She sat on the edge of the bench, reached out with one hand to Meg's face. "May I, Megaera?"
"Of course you may. If you'll call me Meg."
"Meg." Rei traced the sabre slash that ran across Meg's cheek. Asuka drew in a sudden harsh breath. "Your scars are lovely, Meg."
"One for each kill. And they aren't, though I thank you for the flattery."
"They are lovely. You're lovely."
Meg shook her head. "Dear gods. Do you know what I am? Any of you?"
"Yes," Asuka said. "They say you're vengeance personified. But you're more than that, aren't you?"
"Maybe. Sometimes I think so. Then I meet the children of the men I've killed."
She took a deep breath, and bowed her head. "Like the three of you. And now you know why I'm here today. I'm sorry."
"Thank you," Shinji said.
"I killed your father, Shinji. Whyever would you thank me?"
"Because... Because if you hadn't, I would have had to, someday."
"Christos," Meg whispered. "That doesn't much help."
"No," Rei whispered, "but maybe this will." She hugged the Fury, and kissed her gently on the lips.
"And this." Shinji's lips brushed her ear, and his arms cradled her.
Asuka completed the triangle that surrounded her. "You're more than just a killer, Meg. And we're going to prove it to you, even if it takes all night."
"Thank you, sweet ones," Meg whispered, soft so as not to wake them. "Take care of each other." She kissed each brow, and tucked the blanket around their shoulders.
"Meg?" Rei opened her red eyes. "Will you come back?"
"Not to this place."
"Will we see you again?"
"Are you sure?"
"Even the great gods and goddesses don't know everything, Rei-chan. And I'm no more powerful than you. Just a little older. But sometimes the One above Them puts knowledge in our hearts.
"I promise you that we will all meet again. And a Fury never breaks her promises. Not if it takes a thousand centuries to keep them."
"We'll miss you."
"Shhh. Don't cry, Rei-chan."
"Damn it, another night alone," Misato muttered as she fumbled with the key. She wasn't drunk, not really: just tired and unhappy. Another useless evening with useless people, slimy guys hitting on her, none of them half as cute as Shin-- Kaji-kun. My mind's playing tricks on me. I really need a glass of water, and then my bed. My cold bed, with nobody else in it... stop it.
The apartment was dark. And someone was moving. "Asuka? Shinji?" She reached for the light switch. "What the hell?"
The woman was tiny, barely more than a meter and a half. And lovely... not really beautiful in a conventional sense, but fresh and sweet-faced, her brown hair pulled back into a long braid. Misato had known a girl like that in school, a Scottish diplomat's daughter. Half the class had been in love with her.
"Major Katsuragi?" She was dressed in black, like a spy in an old movie, and she moved like... that special forces officer, at the conference three years ago. They'd shared a bottle of wine, the last night, and wound up in bed. Misato pushed the memory of strong arms and sweet schoolgirlish kisses aside, her hand reaching inside her jacket.
Feck, I left the gun in my desk. If she's harmed them, I'll kill her with my bare hands. "Who are you, and why the hell are you in my flat?"
"Take good care of them, Major. They deserve it." She stood frozen as the stranger rose up on tiptoe to kiss her lightly on the lips. "Good night." And she was gone, fading away between one moment and the next.
She hurried to the bedrooms. Asuka's was empty, the unmade bed occupied only by a stuffed monkey and a manga anthology. Her heart in her mouth, she slid Shinji's door open.
"How adorable..." she couldn't help but murmur. Rei was in the middle, her fellow pilots' arms clasped protectively around her. Their three heads shared one pillow.
There was a fourth depression in the futon, behind Asuka's pale freckled back.
Obviously, it was time she was in bed.
Megaera dropped her clothes on the floor, ignoring them as they vanished. Carefully, she lifted the covers and slipped beneath.
"I didn't mean to wake you, Tis," she whispered.
"'S all right. Come in the middle."
"I don't want to rouse 'Lecta."
"She'll not mind."
"All right." Megaera climbed over her heart-sister's body and was embraced Still asleep, Alecta snuggled against her back.
"So, sweetheart, how was it?"
"Not so bad, for once."
"What happened? You usually hate killing."
"Some younglings were very kind to me."
"That's good." She yawned. "Love you, Meg."
"Love you, Tis."
Megaera, Tisiphone, and Alecta are, obviously, the Kindly Ones. In other words, the Furies. These characterisations are mine, although elements of Meg's dress and appearance are similar to those of the nameless Fury in Alexander Jablokov's "The Fury at Colonus." Reading said excellent short story (found on his website) and David Weber's Path of the Fury helped spark this fanfiction.