Author's Note: Anything in ITALICS is a) a way to emphasize certain words, b) thoughts or c) metaphysical settings within a character's mind (i.e. Personal Hell Train Car scenes from the original series)

Bold words, except for the title and ending, are a) further emphasis or b) indications of which character's mind the story is going into.

Thank you, everyone, for sticking with me for twenty-seven chapters.

NEON GENESIS EVANGELION: REDEMPTION

REDEMPTION: Finale: Part I: Here

Miyoko Izanami

Winter of 2018, in Lloyd's trailer

Miyoko still barely knew this enigmatic man, yet she was drawn to him, his touch, and his gentle attitude

As she curled in her bed, looking out the window, he knocked at her door.

"Miyoko, can I come in?"

Her face brightened with a smile, and she sat up.

"Sure, Lloyd, come right in!"

The door opened, and he came in with breakfast. Her smile widened even further when he sat down and put an arm around her shoulders. As she'd done for quite a while now, she leaned against him and sank her head into his chest. In response, he slid his fingers through her hair and held the base of her head. Together, they sat and ate in silence. Occasionally, he picked up a slice of toast and fed her, and she would do the same for him.

Several years later, he'd come to her room as usual, and she was waiting for him, naked.

The memory dulled. Miyoko was in a sea of darkness again, where she'd curled up ever since the Plug had turned bright white with her own fear.

The hated voice drifted towards her again; it had been dogging her ever since she tried to curl up and fade away. It would not release her, would not let her go, and trapped her in her own nightmares.

You wanted him to take you

Yea

The voice seemed to laugh, but with no sound.

"What's so funny?"

You let him have your body as he wished, and he had a big appetite, didn't he?

"So what, I wanted him to!"

Three, four days a week, many times every day, however he likes it?

The voice mocks her mercilessly

You seem more like his personal whore; you let him dirty you and play with you, tie you up, take pictures, everything but invite his friends to share you. Is he so different, then, than those men who raped you the day you came back?

"No! This was…this was for fun! He loves me; he'd never hurt me, so it's okay…"

So, as long as you're not hurt, it's okay for him to rape you?

"Shut up!"

Why did you let him? Did you feel more loved with him?

"Hey! I just wanted him to be happy!"

A face materialized from the waves of darkness. It was her own face, topped by bunny ears and a disgusting looking, open-crotched suit, which she instantly recognized as one of Lloyd's favorites. He'd often make her wear it and then…

You recognize this?

The girl that looked like her laughed in her face.

Of course; the first time he bought you this, he tied you to the bed for the whole night, and you know both of you liked it.

Miyoko tried to shrink, shamefaced, into the arms of the dark.

Where are you going? You cannot run away, y'know. You cannot run away from yourself, your past, or me.

Because I am you; I am you, I am your lust, your desire, your need for attention. You still try to run away, I see, but you can't.

The girl extended her arm in a broad sweep.

From you yourself, Miyoko, there is nowhere you can run

Miyoko screamed and lunged at the girl's neck. The bunny ears fell off as her Miyoko's hands grabbed her double's throat, tearing into the delicate white flesh with feral hatred.

"I am NOT a whore, you bitch! Get away from me!"

The girl laughed at her as she began to die. Slowly, still laughing, her life drained away.

You cannot run away

Miyoko whirled around. The girl is there, still laughing at her. The corpse dropped out of Miyoko's hand. Two more, identical girls appeared behind the second, then three, four and five. In the blink of an eye, a veritable legion of laughing Miyokos covered the universe.

So stop trying to run!

Asuka Langley Soryu

"Hey, wake up!"

The aromatic smell of breakfast drifted into the bedroom. The door opened, revealing a lean, handsome young man bearing a tray of eggs and frankfurter sausages.

He sat down at the foot of a bed for two, and shook the huddle of blankets.

"Mmm!"

A hand reached out and slapped around. The man caught the delicate wrist and put it back down.

"Asuka, wake up already. Don't you want breakfast?"

"I'm still tired, idiot!"

"The frankfurters are getting cold."

A woman with glowing red hair sprang out of bed.

"Well, you should have told me! It's a sin to let good sausages go cold!"

Laughing lightly, the young man put his free arm around her and handed her the plate.

"I see you gave me a proper set of knife and a fork instead of those stupid sticks," she remarked as she dug in hungrily.

"Are you sure that you want to eat before throwing up?"

His hand traced over the swelled curve of her belly.

"Shut up. If I do you'll cook me more; after all, this is your fault," she shot back at him with a smile. "Actually, make more anyway; the next Asuka has to grow, you know."

He leaned his ear against her stomach and caressed its round contours.

"Hey, Shinji, don't be a stupid pervert! Get me more food!"

What?

The happy scene flickered and grayed.

No…

Shinji is dead, gored to death by those strange black Evangelions…

Asuka shook her head.

Just a dream, that's all.

Nothing's changed, nothing will change. She's still alone

Where am I?

Where is Shinji?

Dying isn't the end, you know; don't be stupid, Asuka! You died yourself!

There is someone else inside Unit 02's Entry Plug.

"What's there, after death, huh?"

Nothing

Everything

Do you not know?

Asuka knew only pain, before and after death. Before death, she was torn and ripped; after death, she drowned in a sea of memories she never wished to revisit.

"Nothing but bad things"

Is that all you can see? Do you not see rest in the coming eternity? Rest from strife and conflict, with nothing threatening you?

"And nobody there with me. I'll be all by myself for eternity. That's just too scary to think about," she said, with a glance at the front of her Plug Suit, where Misato's old, rusty cross hung, put there by Shinji as they squirmed into his bed together. The old metal, a small memorabilia of Shinji, gave her some semblance of comfort from its rough, pockmarked surface.

And so, you choose to entirely ignore the fact that life must end.

"I don't care; I'll fight even death itself if it comes."

Awful lot of bravado, but bravery didn't exactly stop him from dying, did it?

Asuka's own face appeared in the swirling darkness.

He's dead, Asuka, and you can't change that. How does that make you feel?

Honestly, there really is nothing that she can do for him, except to pray, which she's never considered anyway; begging for help from supposedly omnipotent beings doesn't click with Asuka, especially not when she spent most of her life fighting them.

"I can't change anything," she replied to herself. "But I made up to him for everything before; I was happy with him, he was happy with me."

She shoved the other Asuka away.

"Besides, he…was trying to save me, so…I have no regrets," she said, as much to herself as to the other Her. "I'd give anything to be with that idiot again, but…I know I can't; it's impossible."

As she was shoved into the darkness, the other Asuka shot off one last sentence.

"Your coming back to life after Third Impact was also supposed to be impossible, but he made it possible. Can't you do better than stupid Shinji?"

It was almost half an hour before Unit 02 began to move again. It lifted itself to Unit 01 and tore off the Plug cover. A hiss of steam escaped, and the Plug swiveled out. Inside Unit 02, Asuka willed herself not to take the sedative, and not to faint again.

"Not…giving up yet…" she growled. "I didn't see you die, and I don't want you to die, if you're still alive."

She struggled to keep moving despite the pain and Unit 02's Core quickly collapsing from its inherent instability, caused by Third Impact.

"I'd hate you forever if you just leave me here like this…I'd hate myself more for not trying."

A final series of warnings flashed over the HUD before it shut off, and Unit 02 stopped moving completely.

"Did I do it? Did I get him out…? Not now…verdammt…"

She sank again, this time far more rapidly.

Miyoko

"You betrayed me."

The pigtailed man did not respond to her accusation, or even turn to acknowledge her.

"You made me believe in a better world…when there wasn't one. Why?"

"I had a use for you…" a ghostly voice spoke from Lloyd's lips.

"Is that…the sole reason?" she asked.

"Yes."

"Don't I…don't I mean more to you? Don't I at least count as a person?" she shrieked.

"While your usefulness lasted, yes"

Miyoko hurled a nearby chair at his back. The chair hit, fell to the ground, and did nothing. Lloyd kept staring into space.

"YOU TRICKED ME! YOU TRICKED ME INTO DOING YOUR DIRTY WORK WHILST YOU SAT HERE SMIRKING! YOU KILLED MY MOTHER!"

"And so I did," he answered, life seeming to spontaneously flow into his voice. "You were weak, so I saved your life. In return, all you had to do was to carry out my plan and create a perfect world for mankind, a utopia where you can hide from the past…where you will disappear. You wanted that world and me so much that you made yourself believe my words, so…are you surprised?"

He turned around, and Miyoko screamed. In place of his handsome face was a skinned, bleeding skull with a fist-sized bullet hole connecting the forehead with the back of his head, grinning with deep, black eyes that seem to hold open the gates of Hades…where she will indeed disappear.

"And you are disappearing, Miyoko darling. You are disappearing right now. Your Soul has lost its will to live a long, long time ago, when it gave up its struggle to keep its shape…now, my dearest Miyoko…COME TO HELL WITH ME!"

Asuka

Haydn, Symphony # 94, "Surprise" Movement I, Allegro, adapted for strings

The first time she drew out the first cheerful notes, the little girl, only nine at the time, had felt happy for the first time in many years, swimming in Haydn's music. Then, as her eyes moved over to the fortissimo cord that made the piece so marvelous, she began feeling nervous. Could her little violin actually do it?

Of course she can! She can do anything!

The screech of the violin made her almost drop it in surprise and dismay. It was horrendous; even a cat curled at her feet leapt up and yowled in anger. Tears began to pool in the little girl's eyes. She can't fail at this now!

Her eyes tearing, she flipped back to the beginning and kept trying. Every time, the damned cord sliced through her mind painfully, until she sobbed in a little huddle in her chair.

It was the first of many failures that she had to endure. The burning humiliation, when her stepmother yelled at her to keep the racket down still seared her soul whenever she heard the Surprise Symphony played. Yet, even now, she still wanted to try, believing that she could succeed.

This is some kind of loony world, existing in her mind. Nobody's here to laugh at her. So, with her old violin, conjured up by her thoughts so accurately that it still bore the scratches and sweat marks laid onto it by the years, she began the motif. The happy tune was almost mocking in its lighthearted song. Five notes to go, four… three…two…one…

A beautiful, blast of sound lit the world of her ears, deep, warm, rich and powerful. Her bow froze, still poised to deliver Haydn's little joke. That was a cello, not a violin, and she'd not drawn yet.

"That wasn't supposed to have been played by something like a violin," Shinji Ikari said. "It needs something deeper."

His uncertain smile was as nervous, weak and warm as ever, and so was his embrace when he hugged her.

"What are you doing here?" she murmured into his chest. "You're dead."

"Sorry"

"Still apologizing?"

"Sorry"

"Idiot; that doesn't help," she said. She looked up into his face. "Why did you do it? Why did you charge like an idiot?"

"What could I do? You couldn't fight, so I had to protect you, didn't I? I promised you that, after all."

She chuckled mournfully as she dug into him, feeling the heat of his body and wishing it were real.

"Is it really you? Or is this just another figment of my imagination here to haunt me?"

He stroked her hair affectionately and kissed the top of her head.

"You're alive, so I didn't live for nothing."

"You're not answering my question, Shinji."

"Sorry," he apologized, much as he used to do for every little thing

She sighed and dried her eyes on his shirt sadly.

"Dummkoph…I tried to save you, okay? Don't blame me if I couldn't."

"It's okay; I won't. You tried, didn't you?" he said with some cheer. "Thank you."

REDEMPTION: Finale: Part II: To Lie in Rest

Several weeks later

A cold sun hung over the ruins of Tokyo-4. A woman's hair fluttered out from behind a hunk of rubble on the beach, inside a barrier of yellow tape. A few miles off, a pile of scrap armor pieces lie in a puddle of LCL, marking the place where the last thread of hope for perfection had died. Yet, as the sun blinks through the clouds, the grave slowly but surely drained away, trickling in small streams through the soft sand to join the eternal, silent ocean.

The woman knelt on the ground with a small, iron cross in her hand. It was left here for him long, long ago during the last days of the old world. He had given it to her out of love, as he himself had received it from a woman who sacrificed her life for him. Now, as she knelt, the metal warming in her hand, the history of the cross played over her mind. Each transition came with someone's sacrifice. Yet, at the same time, someone else's life was preserved. When the chain of events ended at her, it wasn't just one, but three people whose sacrifice culminated in her life. It makes her shudder to feel the weight of her own survival.

"Why did I…" she wondered aloud.

A hand fell on her shoulder.

"Because people loved you, because people wanted to protect you, because you're worth protecting."

She smiled sadly and held the hand. One last time, she looked at the earth. Then, she planted the cross in the sand. There it lies, with all the pain and love it had carried, buried in the soft, white sand. Someday, the blood-red waves will carry it and its accumulated sadness away to sea, where it would sink, dissolve and be united with the primordial ocean. Its journey is over; there will be no more need for sacrifice, no more need for hurt, no more need for wondering, "Why did I live?"

No more loneliness; Asuka Langley Soryu would not need to cry anymore.

"Let's go home, Shinji."

END