Neon Genesis Evangelion and all other properties in this fic are the property of their respective creators and owners. I own none of this – this is purely for practice and fun.
A little idea I was inspired to do by some other works I read and an idea I had running around the back of my head. Not strictly related to my other works.
This is a revision of the earlier version. I'm trying to clean up the language and work the plot a little more.
One light bulb blows out with a flash as she flips the switch, and she mutters to herself. Grunting in a decisively unlady-like way, she stumbles in, her feet sore and her shoulders stiff after a long, very very long day. Exhaustion escapes her as she drops her briefcase on the end table by the door, kicking the door shut as she files through her mail.
It is a nicely, fairly big apartment. The rooms are wide and the kitchen is open. The illusion of size is effective, intimidating. Anyone she invites in is impressed by the awesome scale she lives in, even more awesome when they realize who she is.
The blue prints are framed, with a signature by the original designer, and it takes up an entire section of the wall by the couch. Pictures are everywhere. They mark the entrance to the door of her bedroom, on her kitchen counter, by her bedside night table. Everything here is reminding her of her past. But that's the point, as she walks through the past and, as she would have once said, 'strives boldly into the future.'
She opens the fridge, taking out an instant meal, popping it into the microwave. She doesn't even read the directions anymore. She lives off of it, she knows it by heart. Watching, waiting, she takes out the meal when she knows it is ready, poking it with a fork as she kicks off her shoes and stumbles to the couch. Clicking on the remote, she eats, watching a news report.
"…on the twelve year anniversary of the Battle of Tokyo-3, NERV Supreme Commander-"
The channel changes as she curses, switching to a fashion show. Then switches to a sitcom. Empty jokes, empty laughs. Damn it, she's a professor. A professor of Theoretical Biology. She should be happier than this. She knows why people are happy, and she could keep telling herself that she has everything she needs to be happy…
Except that she hasn't had a date in three years. Any relationship she's had lasts for days on average, weeks at least. She's never gone to third base, which if anyone who knew her back then knew, would floor them.
Reaching into her suit jacket, she takes out her cell phone. Just a handful of names; all of them belong to professional contacts whom she says maybe a sentence to a day.
Rolling her head back, she closes her eyes and sighs. The mind wanders in these moments, and sometimes goes places it doesn't go normally. Walking to the kitchen, she dumps the rest of her dinner, snatching the phone from the charging stand in a smooth motion and walking to the couch.
Taking her laptop, she brings up her web browser, entering in a name and is rewarded with a phone number.
Gott, how long has it been, she thinks.
Eight years, that rational, annoying part of her brain chimes back.
Hesitating for a moment, she starts dialing. Sure, it's long distance, but she doesn't mind. Doesn't care. He'll be happy, he'll be…
Do you remember how it ended, last time?
Her finger hovers over the last button. Of course she remembers. Last time they talked, face to face. Last time before she ran away and he stayed…but time heals all wounds, doesn't it?
Shakily, the last button presses down. Lifting the mobile handset to her ear, her stomach contorts. She blames crappy food more than anything, but doesn't think anything of it as the phone dials and pick up Gott damn it…
The voice is the same, but different. A little deeper, more…confident, maybe? Chances are good it's him, isn't it?
"Hello? Who's calling?"
"…yes, this is Shinji Ikari speaking. Who's…oh, wait."
It was him. Okay, that's good. That's step one. So he's there, even if he's stepped away for a moment, and if she can put more than two words together she can make a sentence and talk to him.
Even if the last time they talked she broke his nose.
"Asuka, what is it?"
Something catches in her throat. Her number's unlisted, after all. Maybe he recognized her voice? Maybe he remembered her? Maybe he-
"Asuka, she'll be back soon. Please, I'm talking with someone on the phone. I'll be right over, okay?"
Then a mumble, then footsteps, hurrying away as he clears his throat.
"Sorry, kids," he sighs, "Um…who is this?"
She clicks off the phone. Silently, she sits on the couch, watching the sitcom. Empty jokes, empty laughs. She almost doesn't notice as the tears begin streaming down her face. Ten years, twelve years ago, she would have responded to this by screaming and hurling the phone into the television.
That was when her anger actually accomplished anything. Instead, the phone just drops to the floor, and after a long moment, her shoulders shake, and she holds her face in her hand as she cries.
Walking in the Shadow of Dreams (revised):
Chapter 1: Meet n' Greet
"Uncle Shinji? Who was that?"
Clicking the buttons on the side of the phone, Shinji Ikari shrugs. The phone number is unlisted, no name given. Sighing, he replaces the phone on the charger, looking down to the three year old, brown-haired girl.
The doorbell rings, the girl running off despite his protests and opening it, jumping into her mother's arms.
"Well, you're happy to see me," the young woman commented, as the girl playfully yanks on one of her pigtails, "I hope she hasn't been a hassle."
"She seems eager to get away from me," Shinji jokes, leaning on the counter, running a hand through longish black hair, "It's no problem, though I do question your timing. One would think our former Class Rep wouldn't be tardy."
"One would think our former class introvert wouldn't cause trouble," Hikari Suzuhara responds, "Well, we're going. You have that…thing…tomorrow?"
"God, yes," Shinji sighs, rubbing the bridge of his nose, "He's driving me insane."
Shrugging, Hikari nods.
"And you're still happy he's like this, now," she says, "We'll get going. Talk to you later?"
He nods, waving, she smiles as the door closes. Sighing, he looks up, leaning against the wall. He could swear he recognized the voice, but…nah. They made it plain to everyone around them that it was over. If she never even thought about him again, it would be too soon.
Shaking his head, he turns, walking to the bathroom of his apartment. The day ahead looms. And he has deeds to do before then.
Clad in blue body armor, black face grill-masks, and white skirts falling to the floor, the two opponents draw their wooden swords and stare each other down. Around them in the gym, the other students of the kendo class watch, having seen this spectacle before. Some watch to learn. Others watch out of morbid fascination.
And as the younger of the two gives off an almost animalistic roar and charges, they realize it will be just as uncomfortable as the other times.
The younger man swings, in a downward chop to his opponent's head, which is easy blocked and returned with a slice towards the ribs. Grunting, the young man blocks, pushing off the swing and shoulder rushing the older man.
The older opponent sweeps out his legs, bringing the sword down in a vertical swing. The younger catches the sword, holding it in place with one hand, as he flips the other sword and drives it into the older man's crotch. The students around the dojo wince, some covering their crotches, as the sensei, an aged man in a loose white gi, sighs.
"This is why I insist on athletic protectors."
The younger man pushes off, rolling and climbing onto his feet.
The two halt, swords going to ready stance. The sensei walks between them, pointing to the door.
"Cool off. Outside," he says, "Enough for today."
They turn to the sensei and bow, stumbling out of the dojo and into the simple, well lit hallway. The younger man leans against the wall, pulling at the straps of his mask. Shinji eases off the face protector, sliding down the wall and resting his sweaty head against the cool tile.
"This is your idea of family counseling?" he asks.
The older man takes off the protector, revealing an aging face with graying brown hair and beard, reaching into a pocket and taking out his tinted glasses.
"You're the one who keeps going for my groin."
"And you keep trying to hit me when I'm down!"
They go silent, for a long moment…and Shinji chuckles.
"I'd like you to work for me," Gendo Ikari says, folding his arms, "For NERV."
"Unit 01 hasn't as much as turned on for twelve years," Shinji responds, "We both know I can't pilot anymore."
He sighs, looking at his father through splayed fingers. Sure, they've both aged. Sure, Shinji is slowly but surely physically becoming him, but right now, as his father stands ramrod straight and looks at him, he sees the old Bastard again.
"But of course, you already know that," he says, "It is your private kingdom."
"This isn't a piloting job," Gendo continues, "I have several pilots, and more than one of them doesn't second guess my actions. Out of the lot of you, I think only Rei and Nagisa didn't talk back to me."
"Rei worshipped the ground you walked on and Kaworu was an Angel sent to kill us all. That doesn't count."
"I think I liked it more when you were terrified of me."
Muttering swears to himself, Shinji rises with a groan. At twenty six, his body doesn't bounce back like it used to, but at the same time he's sure most twenty six year olds haven't wrangled physical gods. Standing up, he steps forward. The same height as his face, the same facial structure with just a hint of his mother's smoothness, and he narrows his eyes.
"Alright," he says, "I'll work for you. No agenda. No games."
"No plots," Gendo says, raising his hand, "No agendas. No scenarios. I have a position that is well suited for you. It's for…the best."
"You mean it's what she would have wanted."
The elder Ikari turns and heads towards the locker room, effectively ending the conversation. And leaning against the wall, he looks up and sighs, wondering what exactly his father had just gotten him into.
To call Tokyo-3 'odd' would be along the same lines as calling a Tsunami a 'wave.' The Fortress City, rebuilt after the disastrous events at the end of the First Angel War, has a character. A character which attracts a population, going from a hundred thousand at the height of the War to two million in modern times.
Following the utter failure of Instrumentality, small little details were added. NERV, being a scientific as well as military organization, had to improvise and also study as many details as possible. Nothing was thrown away.
It for these reasons that the centerpiece of Tokyo-3(a)- and the home base of NERV following the sacking of the Geofront- was the hollowed out, rebuilt corpse of the Angel Ramiel. The massive blue diamond is set on a frame of supports, the hole that it received its kill-shot through upgraded to a massive search light, with elevators and ramps leading into the structure.
Windows dot the surface, planes and VTOL craft coming in and out, as a single figure moves unattended and unnoticed through the crowds of beige-uniformed individuals.
She would stand out if they paid attention. Blue hair, alabaster skin, and piercing red eyes. Instead, the sight of her has become so mundane that even an albino Nephilem holds little interest, considering the sum and whole of NERV's day to day experience. Elevator doors open, and the twenty six year old albino woman stands stock still as they close.
"Dogma," she says.
"I can't believe you talked me into this."
"As do I. Considering our history, I thought you would just stop listening to me after some point."
The collar of the beige uniform itches at his neck, and Shinji can't help but glare at his father as they walk down the halls of the top level of the NERV Decahedron. His father is in his uniform; black and red, one glove white, the other, his prosthetic, black. A whir and click comes from his right hand as he flexes his fingers and they enter his office, his second waiting.
The years have been kind to Misato Katsuragi, and there is still the hint of an exuberant smile on her face as she spots Shinji, before she corrects it and clasps her hands behind her.
"Commander," she says.
The office is well lit- her insistence, after all. The windows are unshaded and the desk is a crescent moon constructed from Ramiel's own material.
"Allow me to present our new Special Inspector," Commander Ikari says, "He will be working with the Tactical Operations department as our liaison with the JSSDF. Do you have any questions?"
Not waiting for a reply, Commander Ikari walks to his desk, sitting in his chair and tapping buttons. Holographic displays light up, information and pictures displaying in quick order as he tents his hands underneath his nose.
"Dr. Ibuki has settled in at NERV-3 at MIT," Misato says, "However, without a head of Project E here, we are operating at a disadvantage. Many Type orange readings have been coming from the Pacific, but the MAGI is fuzzy as to whether or not they are Pattern Blues."
"Understood. I have found a candidate to replace Doctor Akagi and sent an offer," Gendo responds, "Inspector."
Shinji stands up straight.
"You will meet with the possible candidate. A VTOL is waiting for you. Coordinate with the Tactical Ops commander on readiness of all Evangelions and take notes for your meeting."
"How many do we have?" Shinji asks.
"Unit 00, Unit 03, 06, 07 and 11 are at sortie ready status. In fact, she should be here right now…"
The doors open. Walking with a grace that is neither natural nor forced, dressed in a darker gray version of the normal female uniform, the blue haired, pale woman takes up a position next to Shinji. She regards him with a cool, steady stare before turning back to the Commander.
"A new head of Project E is chosen?" Rei Ayanami asks.
"Correct," Gendo says.
Beneath his hands, he smiles, faintly. In front of him are possibly the three reasons there is even a human race anymore. Rei, in betraying him, finally learned the value of her own humanity, something he in his negligence never taught him. Her own mind, sharpened to a point, he had to put to use otherwise.
Misato Katsuragi he underestimated at every turn, choosing her both out of pity for his role in her father's death and because he believed she could be easily controlled. He was wrong; her own maternal instincts, her own will, proved to be more than his cold, emotionless scenario could handle. When Kozou retired, he made her his second. If anything, she proved to be far too dangerous to be allowed to roam free.
And then there is Shinji. His son, even if he never referred to him as such. As much him as he is Yui. As dangerous as he could ever be, as willful and powerful as Gendo ever imagined. When they ask him how Third Impact failed, he boiled it down to two sentences;
Shinji became God.
And then he decided it wasn't for him.
"You have been given Mr. Kaji's position. It has been vacant since his departure."
Walking through the halls towards the lift bays, Shinji nods. Next to him, Rei speaks. Unlike others, he managed to not lose track of her, even after everything. Even after he was told what Rei was, he couldn't simply shun her, only help her. Of course, Shinji's own lack of family, especially his relationship with his father, made this all the more important. Some see her as an abomination.
He sees a kindred spirit. Maybe even a sister.
"You will be taking on all of his duties?"
"Only official ones," he says, "No spying. I don't intend to be a triple agent."
"I don't intend on sleeping with Misato, either."
She raises an eyebrow, inclining her head at him.
"It would make more sense to involve yourself with Tactical Ops commander," she says, "Katsuragi is, after all, now Sub Commander."
Narrowing an eye, he stares at her.
"Except that the Tactical Ops commander's my half-sister."
She smiles. A small, thin, humorous smile.
"Incest is like a board game. It is fun for the whole family."
In the years he's known her, he can still never tell when she's kidding or not. Some events tend to make him wonder how much she is kidding about this sort of thing. Especially events it takes a few beers to get rid of. She leans in and pecks him on the cheek.
"It is good to see you back here," she says, "I hope it is better than the last time."
Turning on her heel, she walks away. As she clears the corner, he palms his face, groaning. Quickly walking, he heads to the lift, the clear glass box closing as it accelerates towards the top launch bays. Floors clear, eventually taking him through the central, hollowed cavity of Ramiel, where he finally sees it.
Face like a mythological demon, the great horn on its snout. Covered in purple and green armor, eyes dull and yellow. For a moment, he wonders if Evangelion 01 still lives like it did, still watches him. It has been twelve years since he stood inside it. Twelve years since he saved the world.
Every moment he was in it caused pain. A lifetime, he will spend making the wrongs involved in the mere creation of that weapon right. It will work for no one, and maybe not even for him, anymore. Not since he knew the truth, and knew what horrors its creators intended him to unleash.
It is the most painful thing for a child to let go of their mother. It is even more painful to realize your mother is a monster.
Shuddering back the nausea, he puts it back in his mind, forcing the revulsion down as he walks towards the waiting VTOL as the lift doors open.
Another day leads to another two classes. It can be argued that at least college boys are cute, unlike the ones she had to deal with in middle school and high school. They are all perverts, of course, but the eye candy doesn't hurt. Or man candy, as her perverted former guardian would add in, somewhere between her fourth and fifth beer of the day.
The classroom is a sixty forty split, forty percent male and sixty perfect female. At least twenty five of the fifty students have a crush on her, and seventeen of them are male. She guesses she should be flattered by that, but, doesn't really think about it. She leaves it up to Mari to organize her occasional blind date, which crashes and burns within an hour when she gets bored.
Besides which, she is busy, she tells herself. Busy busy busy.
The equation is on the board, and she lets them work amongst themselves on how to make it work. She knows, of course. Mother's notes pointed her in the right direction on what she has to do to solve it, even if half of them were garbled and the rest were insane ramblings of a madwoman.
Derek, that one is named. Little pudgy, but intelligent.
The boy two years younger than her stands from his desk in the lecture hall, dressed in a blazer, sweater, and jeans having seen better days.
"Professor, we wanted to ask you about something, but we know your past is a…well, touchy subject."
"Derek," she says, pushing the glasses up her nose, "My past is an 'off-limits' subject. I have explained this time and time again. I am not sure what part of that I am not making clear."
He nods, cheeks flushed. Like a damn schoolboy, half of them are. Sitting down quickly, he gets to the notes and examples, and she fumes, though not showing it. Turning back to the board, she begins writing her version of the proof. She'll get them to understand Super Solenoid theory if it kills them.
The closest Shinji ever went to leaving the country was when he was onboard an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. He slept during the six hour flight. He read a book, checked his email, and waited, and finally came to a conclusion.
They didn't tell me who the candidate was.
They didn't. No name, just a location. An offer had been made, forwarded, not accepted yet. And despite the fact that this offer was made maybe a couple of days ago, his father was insistent that Shinji go and personally recruit this person.
Palming his face, he swears. Thankfully, he's the only one here, so no one notices in the private aircraft. Leaning back in his seat, he closes his eyes as the craft lowers to the ground, wondering what game his father is playing this time.
No games, he said. No agendas.
He's not sure what's worse. That his father promised that, or that Shinji believed him.
He looks up, finding a Section 2 agent standing over him.
"Ready to go?"
She's going to kill someone if she hears another thinly veiled question about her past. It's bad enough that she decided to not go under an assumed name. No, no. She was comfortable with her 'celebrity' status, wasn't she. Now it means no matter what class she teaches, she has one or more enterprising students from the school newspaper wanting an interview with the famous professor. 'My professor saved the world!' the headline would read.
F_ing immature idiots. She half wants to give an interview for the sake of telling them the gory, grisly truth about the whole damn affair. She half wants to mess with their heads and see if she can reduce graduate students to tears. Most of them were barely in puberty when the First Angel War ended, and maybe fifteen or sixteen during the three month long Second Angel War. She remembers it. She was there for the First one.
She never really talked about the Second Angel War, never was there for it.
"Damn it," she growls, "Gott Verdamnt. This isn't what you need."
Her office looms. Swinging open the door, she peers over the controlled mess that is her work space. Office hours in an hour, then she goes home. Get herself a little buzzed, maybe do another phone chat.
"Let's start," she sighs, and slumps in her chair.
Emails come first.
Trading his beige uniform for a suit with a pin marking him as NERV personnel, he is driven to the area. Narrowing his eyes, he sees the archway of the University of Halle-Wittenberg as the car pulls under it, watching old and new architecture of the German University as the car rolls by.
They park in one of the public lots, the bodyguard trailing behind him. Finding a faculty building, in specific the one on the location he was given, he begins ascending steps, walking into the lobby, presenting his ID. Climbing stairs, he follows the numbers until he finds himself in a well lit, balcony hallway on the fourth floor, following room numbers until he is in front of the right one.
Room 404, Faculty Office.
Squinting, as if that would somehow magically allow him to understand German, he sighs and knocks, hard.
No answer. He knocks again.
"Ja, ja! I'm coming!"
His hand stops in mid-knock. Stepping back slightly, arm falling to his side, his eyes go wide. He knows that voice. He knows that voice.
"Father, you son of a bitch."
The door swings open, Shinji locking eyes with a pair of aqua blue eyes. A still beautiful face, light skin, framed by long red hair now tied in a sensible, loose ponytail. Dressed in a brown dress suit and yellow button shift, red pen in hand and glasses on her nose, she stares at him as well for a long moment.
"Hi," he manages to choke out.
A single, silent moment hangs between them, eight years of baggage seemingly dissolving for a moment. He moves to close the distance, opening his mouth to explain why he is here, what he wants, and why she should listen.
But instead, Shinji Ikari, Special Inspector to NERV, drops to the floor after Professor Asuka Sohryu Langely's fist connects to his jaw, and the door to her office slams shut with a flurry of teutonic swears.
"Perhaps I came at a bad time…?"