Last Child of Krypton
Toji was having a bad day.
Kanna had been in the hospital for over two weeks, and no one cared. Not only that, but his first day back to school was the day the shitbag pilot of the robot that almost killed her picked to show up and start bragging. He almost threw his desk when every girl in the room started fawning over the little wuss like he was some sort of superhero. Fortunately, just as it happened, the lunch bell rang.
He was the only person that reacted immediately. He felt betrayed. Even Kensuke had betrayed him, blathering on about the stupid robot. No one cared.
He blinked back his tears and began to wander.
Nothing gave him solace. He wasn't hungry. He didn't want to run. He just wanted the day to be over.
Then he saw him, that jerk. The weedy little shit was just outside the door, hands thrust into his pockets, just staring off into space. Toji had said the words before he realized he'd even meant to.
"Hey! New kid!"
Kensuke spotted him and trotted over as he crossed the schoolyard. Cicadas buzzed in his ears.
The pilot was short, slight, and had a feminine aspect that only made Toji hate him that much more. "Come here," he growled, and the kid started and looked at him like a frightened, confused rodent.
"I wanna talk to you."
"Wa-wa-what?" the little twerp said. God, but he was pathetic.
"Your stupid robot almost killed my sister. You're supposed to help people."
That's what he tried to say. He found himself standing over the kid, who lay before him, his shirt stained with dust and a little blood, a fine mist from his nose. Toji's knuckles hurt. Kensuke said something, but it blended with the cicadas. He didn't hear any of it anymore.
He hit the little shit again. Again. Again. He started kicking him. He lay on the ground, unmoving, his face a mass of blood, and Toji screamed in fury, kicking at his head with the heel of his boot. The rage built and built in him until he felt like he would explode, like it was going to tear out through his eyes and ears and take on a life of its own.
A strong, but gentle hand seized his arm.
He turned. What was this? A costume? Who was this guy?
"Toji," he said again. "This never happened. This isn't real. Listen to me."
"Who are you?"
"Don't talk. Hear. The boy I know didn't give in to his rage. He overcame his fear."
The stranger firmly fixed Toji's left hand in his, cupping his fist. "Don't you remember?"
He looked at the ground. "Yeah. Kinda. There was something. Wasn't there? Something I'm supposed to say."
"The Toji I know lost a lot, but he knew the value of going on. Of forgiveness and sacrifice. He always put his friends ahead of himself, even when he had a real reason to be angry with them. He forgave me when I wouldn't."
"Shinji?" he said. "I can't… there's an oath, right? Is that what it is?"
"Do you remember?"
"I… think so. Is this how it goes? In brightest day…?"
Shinji nodded vigorously. "Come on. Let's say it together."
"In brightest day," Toji said, his voice rising as Shinji joined him, "In blackest night. No evil shall escape my sight. Let all who worship evil's might, beware my power… Green Lantern's Light!"
Kaji sighed as the key turned in the lock. His little apartment wasn't much, but he was lucky to have it. Every day was a joy, a gift in a world gone mad, even if ever morning began with fleeting recollections of the horrors of the Impact Wars. Wars. The word was a lie. It implied civilization, organization, a purpose, not just anarchy, people killing and worse just to survive. It didn't matter anymore, though. He made it. As long as he had Misato to keep waking up to, he'd made it. Speaking of which, after a long day of classes, making up for their week of extracurricular activities, the one thing he really needed right now was…
…an empty apartment.
He charged in, panicking. The tiny apartment was in chaos. Misato's dresser was overturned, the drawers emptied out. The bed had been rolled, and everything that was hers, even if there wasn't much, was opened, with only scraps here or there left behind. They'd been robbed.
Or so he thought, until he saw the tiny box on the counter.
It was lined with felt and it looked cheap, cheap as the dinky little ring inside, the only one he could afford. He opened it and found a folded piece of notebook paper jammed inside, pressing against the ring. He read it, a simple little line, barely coherent, and crushed it in his fist. Too fast. Too young. Need time. Don't call.
He sank to the floor and sat there for a long time, staring at nothing, head pressed against the cool pressboard of the counter. He might have cried, he wasn't sure. He remembered the day they'd met. Freshmen, they were. She was so quiet. People had called her "that weird girl". He couldn't believe, all these years later, that the same vibrant, joyful person had once lived in that taciturn shell. She'd opened herself to him. They were each other's firsts, for all the stupid rumors about them.
"I love you," he said to the air.
It didn't matter. She was gone.
He reached into his pocket, and drew out the phone. He dialed the number.
A gruff silence greeted him.
"Mister Wayne," he said as steadily as he could, "things have changed. I'd like to reconsider your job offer."
There was someone with him. He put the phone down. Two people stood in the kitchen with him, boys on the cusp of being men, in ridiculous outfits. The one in the cape leaned down and offered him a hand.
"Kaji," he said. "Kaji, it's me. Do you remember?"
"I… I know you. Who are you?"
"It's me," he said. "It's Shinji. We need your help. Come on."
"I can't," he said, "It doesn't matter. She's gone."
"She came back. Don't you remember?"
Recognition flashed through him. "I just lost her again," he said thickly. "He never would have hurt her if it wasn't for me."
"That's not true," said Toji. "It's not your fault."
"She's still out there," Shinji crouched beside him. "We can find her. We can bring her home. Rei found her. It's not too late. You have to remember."
"Who you are."
"Who am I… wait, I know how to answer that. I… it's here, isn't it?"
Frantically, he started pulling open drawers, cupboards, even the refrigerator, until at last he found it, lying in the lowest drawer in the corner. Shinji gave Toji a warning touch and they stepped back.
"I remember," Kaji said, "I remember. He gave it to me. Because there must… because it isn't over. I understand, now. It's not about revenge. It's about a better world. That's what he wanted, all the time."
"Who are you?" said Shinji.
"I'm Batman! I get to be Batman!"
Asuka sobbed and scuffed back into the corner, her little shoes scraping against the grungy linoleum floor. She couldn't look, she didn't want to look. She didn't want mama to be angry. Mama swung over her head, swung swung swung, that doll beside her, that doll.
She came to tell Mama, tell her about being pilot. She was supposed to be happy. She would come home and hug Asuka and throw that doll away, and it would all be better. Daddy promised her. She rocked against the wall as she heard the sounds, heard the woman in the next room moan.
She knew the person standing over her. They crowded her, the two boys and the thing, the thing like a bat. Mama was dead and there was a monster in her closet.
She started to cry.
"Wait," the boy in the blue suit said, "we're not ready. We can't reach her like this. We need the one who can."
Shinji turned, opened the closet door, and walked out into the hospital room. She was there, of course she was, choking the life out of a raggedy doll, swaddled up in bedclothes. Kyoko had seen better days, but she was still stunningly beautiful. She turned and looked at him through greasy, stringy hair that looked the color of blood now, but had once been strawberry blonde, and her eyes settled on his. He approached slowly.
"You," she said, softly, her voice hoarse.
"Hello, Doctor Soryu. Can I talk to you?"
"I remember you," she whispered. "In the long sleep, I dreamed about you."
"Yes," he said, his voice cracking. "Help me save her. Please."
She took his hand, and when she stepped from the bed, she shimmered. The dirt and grime flowed from her hair, leaving it shining like spun gold. She was tall and strong, a queen where Asuka had been a princess, the girl's beauty brought to the fullness and richness of womanhood.
"Take me to her."
Holding her by the hand, he led her to the closet, there where the body and the doll no longer hanged. Kyoko leaned down beside her and cupped her chin with her long fingers, and turned Asuka's face up to hers. Her little girl eyes quivered on the verge of fresh tears. "Mama?"
"I'm here. It's me. I'm here, my darling, my shining star. Mama is here for you."
"Mama!" Asuka beamed as she latched her arms around her mother's neck.
Kyoko stood to her full height, and as she did she drew Asuka back to hers, the plugsuit growing around her body as she stood. Fresh A-10 clips pulled back her hair, and Kyoko looked at them for a moment.
"No," she said, "No," and plucked the clips out, tossed them away. "You don't need those. I love you, not what you are or what you do. Always remember that."
Shinji hesitantly approached. "Something is missing," he said.
"Shinji?" Asuka said, "Shinji!"
She fell into his arms and he held her as Kyoko studied him, arms folded across her chest. She smirked. Shinji broke the embrace, kissed her chastely on the lips, and took her hands. When he unfolded his hands from hers, upon her palms lay a pair of silvery bracers.
Misato was scared. Daddy put her in the big dark egg thing and pushed her into the water, and when she opened the lid, the water looked like blood. She closed it again and was stuck in the dark, stuck with the stink of her own dried blood matting her jacket, mixed with his. She did the only thing she could do. She cried.
Someone opened the door.
She screamed. There was a bat, a giant bat, and it was going to eat her. She was dead and the monsters were going to get her, and it started climbing into the pod with her, and changed. There was no bat, only a little boy her age slipping in with her. He wore muddy fatigues two sizes too big, and had the beginnings of stubble poking around his chin, more fuzz than beard. He sat down next to her.
"Hi," he said, "I'm Ryoji. What's your name?"
"M-Misato," she squeaked, cowering against the side of the pod. "I'm scared."
"I know," he said, "but it's going to be okay."
"The mean man hurt me," she started to cry harder, choking back pathetic little sobs with each breath, "he hurt me and he laughed."
"He's gone," the boy said, his voice high, almost breaking. "He's gone and he'll never come back. I need you."
"Ryoji?" Misato said, sitting up. "Is that… I thought I…"
He hugged her tight.
"I love you," she barked, as if she was trying to say the words as fast as she could for fear she'd lose the chance. "I shouldn't have left, I'm so sorry, so sorry."
"It's okay," he said. "We're getting out of here."
"I know a man who can fly."
They found Maya in the lab, of course. She sat still, her maimed leg burning, the fresh slap on her face stung by the tears flowing across her cheeks. She'd been a fool, stupid. Of course Ritsuko wasn't like that. How could she dare to think that way, just because she had those stupid feelings, that stupid dream. She started to sob, leaning against the desk, covering her eyes with her hand.
"Wait," she heard a voice. Was that…
Ritsuko sat beside her. She touched the bruise on her cheek, and Maya felt it fade. She looked into Maya's eyes and then hugged her, and Maya let out a squeal.
"I don't know, Maya," she said, "I don't know if I can feel that way. Maybe we could try. All I know is I would never hurt you, never strike you in anger. I don't even deserve the affection of someone like you. I let that monster take your leg."
"It wasn't your fault," Maya sobbed, "You're so brave. I just, I've never felt about anybody before the way I feel about you. I don't know what it is."
"We can find out," Ritsuko said, brushing away the tears.
"My leg," she said sadly. "I can't walk."
A hand rested on her shoulder. "In this place, you are what you believe yourself to be," said Shinji. "Walk with me, Maya."
Beside her, Ritsuko stood up, and took Maya's hands, and May stood up too.
"Can we?" she said, "Just try it, see how it-"
Ritsuko covered Maya's lips with her own. Maya let out a surprised squeak.
Hyuga sat in the command center, leaning against the back panel, when Misato and Shinji came for him, and everyone else. They filled the room. He looked around and sighed, and took off his glasses, so he could unfocus his eyes, maybe keep himself from crying.
"Go away," he said flatly.
"Makoto-" Misato said.
"Don't Makoto me. I know I'll never have your heart. The man with the red eyes was right, there's no point. I'm not as strong or suave as Kaji, I'm just a geek with a shitty little apartment full of giant robot manga. Giant robot manga? Can you believe that? You'd think I'd be sick of that from my work day."
Kaji sat down beside him.
"Kid," he said.
"What," Hyuga said grumpily.
"I ever tell you about a girl I knew? Her name was… well, I don't actually remember. She had an ass that could stop traffic."
Ritsuko rolled her eyes.
Misato glowered at him, but smirked.
"You know what? She shot me down," he went on.
"And then what?"
"And the next day, I saw a quiet girl sitting at one of the tables in the commissary. Dressed in a sweater and an overcoat, no makeup, nothing. You know who she was?"
Shinji stepped forward and placed a hand on Hyuga's shoulders. "I know you've lost. I know there are things in life you want, but can't have. That's true for all of us, but we all get a beautiful gift to balance the scales."
"A new day," Shinji said, "full of promise and hope that something better will come."
Hyuga stared at him for a while. "God. How can you say that?"
Shinji said nothing, keeping his gaze level, his expression neutral.
"Look who I'm asking," Hyuga smiled sadly as he stood up.
Aoba sat alone. On a rock.
"I knew you guys would show up sooner or later," he said as Shinji approached, the crowd pressed in behind him.
"Are you coming with us?" Maya said brightly.
"Yeah," he said sheepishly. "I thought you'd never ask."
Hikari was crying when they found her.
"I'm scared," she said as Toji walked down the broken door to the shelter, which was empty save for her. "Everybody's gone, and I don't know what to do. Will you help me?"
"Yes," Toji said, "Come on, let's go find Kodama and Nozomi and your Dad. They're looking for you."
"Okay," she sniffed. "I think he's still gonna wanna move away."
"That's okay," Toji beamed." I can handle the commute."
Shinji slapped him on the back. "Let's go."
"Hey!" someone called.
In the corner, there was a box, a simple cardboard box. Shinji walked over to it, and opened the lid. Kanna practically erupted out and ran to Toji, clamping onto his leg.
"Toji!" she squealed.
"Kanna?" Toji said, scooping her up.
"I'm here! A big mean man with red eyes came and I hit him in the nose and said he was mean and he put me in a box," she pouted. "And he said Superman was stupid."
"We'll see about that," said Shinji, ruffling her hair.
Mari sat in the entry plug, the LCL long dried, matted in her hair. She drew her knees up to her chest and cried, cried long and hard, and there was snot on her plug suit and she didn't care. She didn't look up when Shinji opened the plug.
"Mari," he said. "We're here. Everybody's here, all your friends. We want you to come with us."
"Why," she sniffed. "I'm stupid. I'm immature and loud and obnoxious and nobody really likes me. I'm just a joke, the extra pilot. Nobody needs me."
"We need you."
"I don't care. I'm not coming," she wiped at her nose, "I want my mommy."
"Okay," Shinji said, and stepped aside.
She was a plain woman- Mari's looks had come from her father's side of the family. She was just a person, just a mother in a plain skirt and an apron, stained with the cake she'd been baking the day she fell down in the kitchen. Mari stared at her for a moment.
"I'm here," she said, "I want you to be happy. Come with us."
"How did you do it?" she said as she climbed out of the plug.
"I didn't," Shinji said, "but I have friends in high places. So do you. It was Rei. Come on, we still need Kensuke. I don't think he'll leave without you."
Kensuke sat alone in his room, surrounded by diagrams and charts and posters and models of jets, all hung from nearly invisible lengths of fishing wire, an apocalypse of miltiaria. His room was tiny, barely more than a closet, and he had to roll up his futon away from his desk. He didn't care now. He'd smashed the planes, torn down the posters, and sat staring at the one thing he'd never achieve.
He held the little model in his hand. He'd lovingly painted it, compared it to photos and videos to get the proportions right, including the ones he'd gotten himself. He just wanted to be a hero, but that wasn't for him. He was just a chubby failure, like his dad and his dad before him. He'd end up working in a dead end job somewhere if an Angel didn't step on his house first.
"There's no point," he said. "I've got nothing,"
"Except a girlfriend with awesome boobs who's into all the same stupid crap you are," Toji beamed.
"Excuse me?" Hikari snapped.
"Oh, uh, I like your boobs too."
"Toji," Shinji said, his voice bubbling with barely contained laughter. "Shut. Up."
"Kensuke?" Mari said softly. "I'm sorry I missed our date."
"It's okay," he said, taking off his glasses. "You were saving the world. I know."
"I'd rather have been with you. Wanna meet my mom?"
Toji shook his head frantically.
"Hey," Asuka said angrily. "How come no one ever talks about my boobs?"
"Asuka, I have to break this to you gently. Shinji has been lying to you. He's Superman. You're dating Superman. That's why."
She eyed him dangerously.
"Let's go," said Shinji. "There's more people. We need everybody."
Naoko Akagi lay atop her creation, the MAGI system itself, watching the blood trickle out of her own brain. Her eye couldn't focus, but she knew who she saw anyway.
"I like your hair," she snapped.
"Sorry, Mom, but I needed a new look," Ritsuko said coolly. "We want you to come with us."
"I belong here," she said. "I treated my own family like a stranger, I strangled a little girl, and I helped murder my own best friend so I could sleep with her husband. I don't deserve to be happy."
"Maybe," a calm voice said, resting a hand on her shoulder. "but that isn't for you to decide. We have to face each new day and take what comes, because that's what it is to be human."
"How do you know that?"
"Superman told me," he quipped.
"I know you," she said as her eyes focused. "You're Yui's boy. Why would you want to help me? Do you know what I've done?"
"I don't care," he said, slipping a warm hand into hers. "Everyone deserves a chance. No one belongs here. Come with us."
"Please," her daughter said, and for a moment she remembered that same word a dozen times over, and the answer had always been no.
But not today.
Shinji trembled as the time came. He and his friends and allies were specters, ghosts in the machine. They stood in silence as Yui Ikari, bright and beaming and beautiful, waved goodbye to her son. Toji rested a hand on his shoulder, and then stepped back. This, he had to do alone.
He ascended the stair behind her, climbed up beside the dissected visage of Unit-01. He put a hand on her shoulder to stop her, and the gangway shuddered as Unit-01 stretched and moved under it. She put her hands out, her bulky contact suit squeaking. She turned to him.
"You…" she said, "You look like someone I know."
"Mom, it's me."
She stared at him for a moment. "You… are you… no, you can't be, you're too old, but… you have his eyes. I saw them. You have Jor-El's eyes."
"It's me. It's Shinji. I'm here."
She shook, and Shinji thought she was fainting, and rushed to catch her. Unit-01 struggled beneath them, bandages popping and creaking against her muscles. Shinji held on to her like a desperate man clinging to a shipwreck in a storm.
"No," he said, "not this time, you monster. This time she's not going with you."
"It is you. God, it is you. I dreamed of you. I remember, when they tried to make you pilot, I stopped them, I wouldn't let them. I took the girl instead. Oh God, what have I done?"
Asuka walked up the stairs. "Yui?" she said quietly.
"I remember you," Yui said, "I remember the volcano. I knew your mind, your thoughts, when the synch came. I knew how you felt for my son, even when he didn't. I set the other girl aside and pulled you out."
"Yeah," Asuka said, "uh, thanks, for, um, being my Eva."
Yui laughed. The sound was like bells, like the first chirps of a bird on a fresh spring day.
"Oh," she chuckled, "You still haven't told him, have you? He doesn't know?"
"Uh," Asuka said, "Know what?"
She smirked. "We'll talk about it later."
"Yui," Kyoko called up from the catwalk. "What are you talking about?"
"Nothing, Kyoko," Yui said innocently. She leaned over to Shinji, and in his ear, whispered three words.
"Come on," Shinji said, grinning from ear to ear. "We need everyone. Absolutely everyone."
Gendo Ikari sat in his office, hand steepled, waiting patiently as Shinji entered the room. He retained his position as the others followed him, packing his office to the gills. He remained, impassive, staring at the man. They remained this way for some time, until Gendo broke the silence.
"For what it's worth," he said, "I am sorry, Shinji."
Yui strode forward. Gendo stared at her, impassive, although he did rise ever so slightly away from his hands.
"This is a trick," he said. "You're not real. This is another one of his illusions. I've read the Equation. This isn't possible. There's no point."
"You asked me once if I could change fate," Shinji said. "What do you think?"
He studied Shinji for a long moment, and then stood up. "Let's go."
i need you
In this place, the last place, there was only darkness. Shinji walked and they followed him, Toji and Kensuke and Asuka and Mari, Hyuga and Aoba and Maya, arm in arm with Ritsuko; Kyoko and Yui and Gendo and Naoko, Hikari and her sisters and her father and Kanna and all the world, every single one.
Except one. The one they were missing. The one they looked to find.
The form of the great enemy loomed over them, his back turned. He stood, hands clasped behind his back, in contemplation, hidden in terrible, whirling shadows, and as he came upon him Shinji knew fear. He turned and said,
"Be strong. Remember what you learned. Remember your family and friends and your hopes and dreams."
As he walked, Kaworu and Rei fell in on either side beside him. He turned to them, one at a time, and they smiled warmly as they walked through the void.
"Darkseid!"Shinji called, "Give back what you have stolen! You have no rights here!"
He turned slowly, his red-eyed gaze falling on Shinji like a winter storm. "No. You will fall. You will fail. All that you are, all that you have dreamed of, are nothing before Darkseid. I am the beginning and the end. I am beyond anything you have ever known, and beyond anything you will ever know again. The death of your world is but one step on a long journey of despair that will lead to a universe of endless pain, endless suffering, and when all the universe is Darkseid, I will gaze into it, as into a mirror."
"Darkseid!" Shinji called again. "Hear me! Hear me!"
They joined him, everyone, in a great chorus.
"When I gaze into your black soul, it is with six billion eyes!"
"When I pass judgment on your evil, it is with three billion hearts!"
"When I raise my hand to oppose your will, it is with three billion fists!"
"When I sing the song of creation, it is with three billion voices!"
"Go back where you belong!"
Darkseid smirked, still half turned. In a fury, Shinji grabbed his shoulder and turned him, turned to face him.
"You dare touch me?"
He lanced out with all his hate, his evil, with the Omega Sanction, the death that is life, and behind Shinji, Asuka rested her hands on his shoulders, and behind her, Kyoko and Yui rested theirs, and behind them the whole world, pushing together. Shinji thrust out his chest and parted it as ship parts a wave and stood strong.
Then he saw it.
Deep within Darkseid's black heart, Kozo Fuyutsuki lay, bound in irons and thorns. He stirred as Shinji plowed forward, one eye opening dimly in his swollen and beaten face, scratched and bleeding. Shinji reached for him, plunging his arm into the thorns even as they drew his blood.
"Professor! We're here! Come back!" Shinji cried, "It's safe! You can come back!"
"Leave me be," the old man croaked, "I deserve worse than this. I covered up the greatest crime in history. I'm a monster, worse than a monster. I coveted my friend's wife. I deserve my fate," and as he spoke, Darkseid spoke with him, and their voices were one and the same.
A tiny voice whispered, "Kozo. Kozo, it's me."
Yui reached past Shinji and he flinched as she plunged her hand into the thorns, reaching even past his. "Kozo!"
He looked at her for a moment, only a moment, before he took Yui's hand. Shinji clamped his around them both and pulled, and as he pulled so many arms he couldn't count them all joined him, grabbing his arm and his cape and his shoulders, pulling with him. Darkseid screamed in pain and rage and impotent fury as they pulled Fuyutsuki free, and Yui embraced him.
"Come with us," she said.
Rei drew Shinji back even as Darkseid reached for him.
The great beast faded, emaciated, worn. The strength was not in him anymore. Still he reached, still he clawed feebly, eyes full of murder, and Rei looked down him and said, her voice almost pitiable, "Look at you. The final crisis has come and gone. You are dead, but refuse to embrace your end."
"It doesn't matter," he wheezed, his voice hollow and empty now, "so long as there is evil, there will be a place for Darkseid."
"So long as there is Darkseid," said Rei, "there will be a Superman to oppose him. Hope is always strongest on the darkest day, as the candle is always brightest in the deepest night. Begone from this place. Your anchor is denied you. You have no more claim here."
Darkseid rose, and as he rose, became a cloud of smoke and soot, as if from a burning fire.
Shinji drew in a mighty breath, and he blew, and just like that, he was gone.
He turned, and said, "Let's go home."
Shinji awoke to the lapping of waves, and the crash of the ocean. He drew in a sharp breath, remembering the visions within the angel of the night. He released it, slowly, when he felt a warm hand on his, soft, slender fingers lacing through his own.
He turned. Asuka lay in the sand beside him.
"Hey," he said.
"I think we made it," he said.
"Yeah," she said. "Is it just us?"
"Ugh," Kyoko said, "I forgot what it was like to have sand my hair."
"Mamma?" Asuka said. "Mamma!"
"Ow!" Kyoko cried as Asuka crashed into her, but there was no heat in her voice, only giggles. Shinji sighed, smiling to himself as he sat in the sand, watching the sun rise over the lapping waters of the sea. The beach was strewn with people, all up and down it, as far as even he could see, unto the ends of the Earth. Or the curvature of it, anyway.
His mother sat down beside him, and rested her head on her shoulder.
"I didn't get my wish," she said.
"Huh?" Shinji said, alarmed.
"Some part of me planned to stay within Eva," she said sadly. "I know it's wrong, and it's selfish, but I thought that mankind should have a marker. I thought I'd end up floating in space, like a signpost pointing to us. It was my dream as a little girl, if that makes any sense."
"I'm sorry," he said.
"You really do apologize too much," she chided him. "And what are you doing with your hair? You look ridiculous."
"You don't know how much I've wanted to hear that," she said wistfully, running her fingers through his hair. "Son."
"Your wish will be granted, Yui Ikari," Kaworu's soft voice said.
They stood together, though neither of their feet touched the ground. Kaworu and Rei were side by side, hand in hand, looking up and down the beach. The wind gusted, but touched neither of their hair.
"Rei," Shinji said. "We did it."
"You did it," Rei said cheerily. "I only… facilitated."
"I, on the other hand," Kaworu said with a smirk, "was as useful as… what is the expression? A screen door on a battleship."
"Submarine," Yui laughed, "It's submarine."
Kaworu looked confused. "I do not understand."
"A submarine submerges, so… never mind."
"You can't stay, can you?" Shinji said softly.
"My time on this world, as Rei Ayanami, is done," said Rei. "I am not Rei Ayanami, nor am I Lilith. I am more things than you could know, but Rei Ayanami will always be part of me, and that part will be dear. So it is that your wish will be granted, Yui Ikari. No matter what happens, mankind will not be forgotten. This, we swear."
"We swear," said Kaworu.
"Wait," Yui said, "Did… did Kozo come back?"
"He is free," said Rei. "Perhaps in time, if he sees hope within himself, he and others who did not come back with us will be able to return. Be not afraid, for he is at peace."
"Thank you," said Shinji.
Asuka plopped in the sand next to him, and rested her head on his shoulder.
"Blech," she said, "I feel sick."
Shinji smiled, and let out a long breath.
"Hey," she said, "What is it you wouldn't tell me?"
"Well," Yui said, smirking over Shinji's shoulder, "You're-"
They who were once Rei and Kaworu took flight.
Their first stop was near, an old, barren world once left cold, a world its people called Ma'aleca'andra, once. There the Seeds of Life lay with one another, and when she breathed her joy, it was as the breath of life, and there, on that barren world, the first flower grew. And she who was once Rei cupped the flower in her hand and whispered, so that it and all who grew after it would remember, and dream, and when the darkness came and crowded in around the edges of their campfires, they would whisper to one another in myth and legend of a hero of a thousand names, a strange visitor with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.
"Behold," she whispered, "I teach you the Superman."
You have been reading
Last Child of Krypton
resist|i need you
This work incorporates the by the creations and ideas of Hideaki Anno, Jerry Seigel, Joe Schuster, Bob Kane, Bill Finger, William Moulton Marston, Martin Nodell, C.C. Beck, Bill Parker, Joseph Samachson, Joe Certa, Gardner Fox, Harry Lampert, Dennis Neville, Mark Waid, Alex Ross, Jack Kirby, and Grant Morrison.
No claim, intellectual, financial, or otherwise, is intended, and the utmost respect is implied.
I thank you for reading.
Wait, we're not done. Did you think I forgot about Pen-Pen?
Io the Amazon dropped her dress in a pool around her ankles and sauntered into the steaming bath to join her sisters. She cooed and clamored around the bird, as her sisters all had.
"Isn't he just precious?"
"Just as planned," warked Pen-Pen.