Disclaimer: I think that it goes without saying that I don't own Evangelion. All parties agree that it's probably for the best.

Pre-fic notes: Well, with much apprehension and bad grammar I hereby launch my new fic on an unsuspecting World. I'm enjoying writing this one, though I'm a tad nervous about how it will be received. What was going to be a one chapter prologue kinda expanded into a four chapter prologue. It felt like it needed the space to get to grips with things before moving into the main body of the story and I didn't want to publish a first chapter that was tens of thousands of words long.

Anyway… Enough of my insecurities… Please enjoy!


"Progress: The process whereby the human race has got rid of whiskers, the vermiform appendix and God."

- H. L. Mencken, 'A Book of Burlesques' (1916)

"We solved all the problems
with bigger problems".

- OK GO, 'The Greatest Song I Ever Heard.'(2011)

Chapter One.

Asuka on the Shore

The Dead Moon wore the bloody slash across its face like some kind of grotesque leer. The extremis of its sister, the Blue Earth, had permanently marked the celestial orb in the violence of its death throes.

Now that crimson stream had retreated from the moon and hung lazily in low orbit around the stricken planet. The fabric of the arc gibbered and chattered incontinently, but no spark of true intellect animated the billions of souls that had been mashed so brutally into it. Neither Destrudo nor Libido swirled within its blood stained depths.

From that altitude no sign of the life form that had so heedlessly wounded its host could be made out. But, coming in closer to the blighted surface a small figure could be seen picking its way gingerly through the rubble of a ruined city.

"Fuck!" Asuka said angrily as the pain of a sharp concrete fragment jabbed into her knee as she stumbled and fell on the rock-strewn roadway. "Just fucking brilliant!" She muttered as she staggered and fell yet again

The bright red suit had been a marvel of 21st Century science. A non-permeable synthetic memory fabric that allowed maximum efficiency and enhanced synchronicity with the core of a gigantic bio-engineered robot and also had several life support functions built into a fully articulated and lightweight Plug Suit.

Sadly, as Asuka was discovering, it was almost useless for an extended hike into a ruined battle zone. Especially as the soles of her feet were only protected by a paper thin layer of synthetic rubber that offered no protection at all from sharp stones and rubble.

"Stupid fucking suit." She said bitterly as she wearily got back up onto her feet. She raised a bandaged arm to her knotted red hair and tried to push it away from her face. The hair, caked as it was with now dry LCL, refused to budge and remained irritatingly hanging in front of her good eye.

Now that was a worry. Never mind how she had ended up on that beach alive but heavily bandaged when her last definite living memory was being torn to screaming shreds by the Mass Production Evangelions. She shook her head. Just how she was now alive to wander this shattered city was a question that she refused to address just yet.

What did worry her more than she would allow herself to admit was what lay beneath those bandages. Her right arm was swathed from knuckle to shoulder in them, as was much of her torso. What really scared her was that her left eye had been covered with a thick gauze pad and yet more bandages around her head held it in place. She knew, how could she possibly have forgotten, that these were the exact same injuries that she had received in that final battle with the MP Evas. She touched the pad over her eye gingerly, wincing at the pain that lanced into her skull just with that mere contact.

She shook her head to clear her anxiety, there would be plenty of time for freaking out later. Now more important matters occupied her.

She picked her way towards the former centre of Tokyo-3. None of the buildings in this area had escaped the devastation of the multiple N2 mines that the JSSDF had deployed against the fortress city during the battle. Here and there one stood defiantly amidst the ruins, but even those had a mortally wounded look to them. As if they would crumble at the merest vibration or noise. Asuka decided that she could not risk exploring them just yet.

Behind her, the Sun began to rise in the East, giving the whole area a slightly lurid bloody cast. Not that it needed it. She thought grimly. It was gruesome enough already.

"Red sky at Morning, Shepherd take Warning." The old rhyme tolled randomly in her head. She ignored it and trudged her sense of direction was serving her correctly, the nearest access point to the Geo-Front should be coming up soon. Just past a pile of burnt out car bodies and an upside down Armoured Personnel Carrier she saw a sign attached to a fallen telephone pole pointing to Emergency Shelter H-74. Her pulse quickened and her feet picked up their pace. Just beyond that shelter should be one of the main access routes down to Central Dogma.

She squeezed herself past the burnt shell of the APC. "Shit." The collapsed remains of two buildings blocked her view of the entrance, but she still knew that she was in the right place. Ignoring the pain in her feet as she climbed the small hill of rubble she clambered her way up to the top of it, feeling sure that she would see some sign of NERV or the Geofront on the other side.

She got far more than she bargained for. Asuka fell to her knees. For a moment not even noticing the pain as the rubble cut through her plug suit and opened up fresh wounds in her lower legs.

An enormous crater yawned out in front of her as she crested the hill. At least two kilometres across and perhaps five hundred metres or more deep. No hope of access to the facilities contained below was remotely possible. She scrambled down the other side of the rubble and gingerly crawled as close to the edge as she dared and peered down into the remains of the Geofront.

Even in the pale early dawn light it was clear that the vast Geofront was dead. It wasn't just the grey lifeless wasteland that was the true indicator. Nor was it the ruin brought by the final battle, Her final battle, against the forces of SEELE and the JSSDF.

No. The Geofront, with its smashed pyramid and battered warships lying bleakly in the dead landscape wasn't what really told the story of the final battle of Humanity. It was the smell. A rotten, but sickly sweet organic stench that convulsed her stomach and scarred her brain. Nothing meaningful was left alive down there, nothing could be, she just knew it.

Asuka's stomach convulsed and she retched and spat out some foul tasting bile into the chasm before inching away from the edge and back into the ruins of Tokyo-3. It seemed a fitting farewell to that place which had brought nothing but pain and ruin to her life.

The sun had finally risen on this first morning of the World. But it brought no warmth with it. Third Impact, it seemed, had wrought yet another cataclysmic shift in the Planet's balance as the perpetual summer of the Second Impact was finally brought to its end. Dark clouds gathered over the mountains and Asuka hugged her arms to her body in a vain attempt to ward off the deep chill in the air.

She was so tired.

Following the trail of the nearby railway tracks she set off for her next destination. Home. Maybe, just maybe, she would find something there that they could use to help them survive. Who knew? Maybe the old apartment building would still be standing. Squashing down the voice in her head that told her it was hopeless she limped and staggered along the tracks. The train tracks appeared to be the one clear pathway within the ruined city. With the state of emergency and the JSSDF attacks near the End, there were no trains, or train wrecks along the way, and the noise barriers had been reasonably effective at stopping the debris from blocking the track ways. Maybe things were looking up after all? Maybe the part of town that they lived in had been spared the carnage.

Maybe even that stupid penguin was still there...

It took her the best part of an hour for her to reach the old apartment. She had ground her way along, ignoring the increasing chill of the air and the now icy wind that funnelled down the tracks in her hope that she would find something of her old life at the end. If the apartment was still there, then maybe they stood a chance of making it, maybe...

The death of that hope almost robbed Asuka of the will to go on.

The Apartment building had pancaked floor upon floor before cracking on the bones of the liftwell and collapsing outward onto the road in front of her. A small sob escaped her and a stray tear cut a clean path down her cheek.

Amongst the rubble closest to her a small glint of metal caught her eye in the shadows. Curiosity got the better of her and she went to the pile of broken masonry and crouched down to look inside. Amongst the twisted rebar and concrete shards a small battered golden cylinder lay catching what dull light the cloudy sky offered. Asuka reached down and took hold of it, turning it over in her hand. A small quiver trembled across her lips as she looked at the picture of the strange little man with the fish on the can. The brand name 'YEBISU, ALL MALT BEER' was still legible on the front.

A prickling sensation was beginning in her uncovered eye as moisture formed unbidden in it and trickled slowly down her grimy cheek. A jumble of memories assailed her. Her guardian's morning yell of beer charged joy, Misato smiling at her across the table of that stupid Ramen stand after the 10th Angel… Somehow, through the hazy chaos of images that she knew must have come from Instrumentality she saw the woman lying by the NERV lift well with her lifeblood draining from her body.

Asuka wiped her bandaged hand across her eye, smearing the dirt and dried LCL over her cheek. The old familiar fire of anger building up in her chest. She cocked her good arm and threw the beer can angrily in the ruins of her former home, the can rupturing and spraying its contents into the air briefly before disappearing down amongst the rubble.

"God-damn it!" She yelled at the ruins. "What the fuck is this? Is this what we fought for? Is this what Misato died for? What Kaji died for? What the FUCK did you stupid old men do to my fucking World, you fucking bastards?" She screamed as she threw a rock back into the buildings skeleton in impotent fury. As she did a sharp pain tore across her body, doubling the girl over and causing her to stumble and collapse back onto her bloodied knees.

"Fu-Fuck..." She spat out between rasping breaths as her body felt like it was on fire from a dozen or more separate points of pain. Each one a searing reminder of the MP Evangelions and her defeat and living disembowelment at their hands.

Eventually the pain subsided to more bearable levels but the girl's breaths still hitched and gasped as she buried her head in her hands and gave in to the despair that had threatened to engulf her since she had woken on the beach what could have been hours, years or a lifetime ago.

More time passed.

Eventually the ever deepening chill in the air brought her back to herself and she painfully got back up onto her feet. "Get a grip, Soryu." She muttered to herself. Self pity was for the weak. It was for fools like Shinji, Misato or Dr Akagi. Not for her. She was better than that. Better than them.

Keep moving, that was the key to survival. She'd show them that she couldn't be broken.

Slowly, but more purposefully, she turned her back on her old home, her old life, and hobbled away from the ruins of Tokyo-3 and back to the beach from which she had come. Who knew, maybe the idiot would still be there.

Her first concrete memory after all of… whatever the fuck that whole Instrumentality thing was… had been of him on top of her, squeezing her throat painfully. Her lungs had screamed for air, her instincts yelled at her to fight back, but she couldn't. She had seen his pain. He had been at the heart of it all. Third Impact, Instrumentality, whatever the fuck they called it. All of the hurt he had suffered at his Father's hands, and at her hands as well, she had seen it all. She couldn't lash out at him after seeing that. He had chosen to make this new World and if he had also chosen to eradicate her presence from it she would have welcomed the release.

She shuddered to think of how accepting of giving in to oblivion she had been right at that moment.

She had lifted her bandaged hand to gently stroke his cheek. That had been what had broken him it seemed. His grip on her neck had loosened and he had collapsed on top of her wracked by great sobs and hot tears that splashed onto her upturned face. She had closed her eye and let her hand fall back to her side as she lay there beneath him.

She remembered that she had felt completely disgusting.

Sometime later she had drifted back to consciousness with a sense of a great loss that had somehow befallen her. She opened her eye. The blackness of the firmament against the full moon and the red smear across the sky greeted her. She could no longer see Shinji.

Strangely it was that realisation that had filled her with the sense of loss.

She had lain there, staring upwards as the sound of the waves of… whatever that stuff was… lapped against the shoreline. The Universe had stood still for those moments, holding its breath it seemed for what would come after the trauma of Third Impact.

Gently, as if she was unsure if they would actually work, she levered herself up on her arms and awkwardly rolled into a kneeling position. There he was. Sitting about three metres away from where she was lying was Shinji. His back was to her and he seemed to just be staring out across the red sea in front of him at the huge and shattered visage of the being formerly known as Wondergirl that lay far out to sea.

"Shinji." She said. Her voice coming out as a hoarse croak.

He didn't move.

"Oi… Baka Shinji!" She said more forcefully, the effort hurting her parched throat.

Still no reaction.

Groaning in annoyance she crawled across the sand to where he sat and looked into his pale face. His eyes were empty pools of darkness, the blue irises unfocussed and slack. She held out her good hand to his cheek.


Not even a flicker of recognition.

"Come on Baka, snap out of it!" She said tapping him reasonably gently on the cheek.

The sound of the waves was her only answer. She was getting angry now. She shook him roughly by his shoulders, his head swaying back and forth like a doll. 'Like a fucking doll!'

"For fuck's sake Third! Get your fucking head out of your ass and look at me! Arrgh!"

She herself then hunched over as the pain from her injuries, still concealed by their bandages, lanced through her body and head. Asuka doubled over in agony on the sand in front of Shinji, cradling her head in her hands.

"S-Shit…" She gasped as she waited for the pain to subside.

Asuka finally struggled up to her feet, looking down on the unresponsive Third Child.

"Fine, idiot! Stay here if you want. Wallow in your pathetic self pity! I don't care!" She kicked him where he sat and stumbled away from him. "Fuck you Third Child!"

As she staggered up the beach she passed a lone piece of driftwood that had obviously been deliberately shoved vertically into the sand further up the shore. On a rusted nail near the top of the stake hung a very familiar plain silver Greek cross hanging on a thin leather necklace. It was the cross that Misato always wore. She looked more closely at the cross. Several small patches of dark red had been splashed across it and then dried out. They were unmistakeably dried blood.

The image of Misato's face, pale and drawn with blood coming from the corners of her mouth, flashed up in her mind. She knew that her guardian had died a violent and heroic death, Instrumentality had made sure that she wasn't spared the slightest detail, but seeing this memorial; This Grave Marker made it all too present and real. She turned away from the driftwood shrine and limped away from all it represented and back to what she had hoped was civilisation and medical care.

Sometime later, before she had reached the ruins of Tokyo-3, she realised that Shinji must have put that piece of driftwood up as his own personal memorial to his loss. That realisation hurt her. He had thought enough beyond himself to make a symbolic statement of loss and memory in his time here whereas she all she had achieved thus far was to yell at him and kick him in the hip.

"Damn bony hip too." She said to herself with a grimace. Her toes still throbbed painfully on her right foot from the contact. She decided that after she had explored, and maybe found some help, she would go back to him and maybe even apologise for her earlier roughness.


"Well, he did try to strangle me!" She muttered to herself as she headed off in what she instinctively felt was the direction of Tokyo-3. The city that had been her home for the past year.


The city that she knew for sure was now completely dead.

In the time that it took her to get back from Tokyo-3 to the Sea Shore she needed to figure out what the next move that she would have to make would be. It took but a little of her impressive intellect to figure out that shelter from the increasingly bitter wind and some kind of food were going to be high in her list of priorities. 'Thank you Mr State-the-fucking-obvious Maslow!' She thought bitterly.

Heading back as she was from where the ruins of their old apartment lay, she passed through more open country than she had on the way to the city. This had obviously been productive farmland once, though now the land looked wounded and over grown with weeds and ruin.

For the first time that day she actually wondered, 'Just how long has it been since anyone actually lived here?'

Everything around her looked like it had been abandoned for what could be months or even years. What on Earth had actually happened here? How long had she been gone for?

'Can't answer that right now' She thought as she limped onward. She had more important things to worry about. With that in mind she paid closer attention to her surroundings than she had on the way out.

Eventually she spotted something that looked promising. Off to the side of the dirt track she had been walking along, a couple of hundred metres or so from where she stood, a small cluster of buildings sat huddled together amongst the overgrown fields.

She could feel her pulse quicken. A farmhouse! That was exactly what she needed. It was far enough away from the City so that damage should have been minimal, and she knew that farms tended to be more self sufficient than town or city houses, so it offered them the best chance of survival.

Excitedly she half walked, half ran down the track that led to the small house. As she got closer she saw that even here the last battle had left some scars. Many of the house's windows were broken in and there was a lot of debris around it, but from the outside it seemed structurally sound. She walked around the house, inspecting it and feeling like a prospective buyer.

"Hmmm, A little run down but a renovator's delight, I'm sure." Feeling a little giddy from her exertions she continued. "Lots of potential, not a bad entry level property for a young couple looking to get into the local real estate market." 'Asuka, you've finally lost your marbles.' She thought to herself.

As she rounded the back of the cabin she stopped in her tracks. It had an external water tank! And a chimney. There was even a pile of firewood stacked against the side of the house next to the back door. "Sold!" She cried out loud, laughing to herself. The first time laughter had been heard in that dead World.

Even better some of the windows on this side of the house were intact. That was it, she had found it. She came back around to the front of the building and climbed the steps to the front door, thankfully it was hanging open, the bottom hinge having given way some time ago. She pushed it aside and went in. it was quite dark inside and had a musty, dank smell, but for the first time since she had left the beach she was out of that biting cold wind.

There were only a couple of rooms in the cottage, and very sparse furnishings. A kind of kitchen/living/dining room in the centre of the building, with an open fireplace. A single bedroom, with a threadbare old futon on the floor and two broken windows. And most glorious of all, a bathroom with an old freestanding iron tub.

Her mood quickly dropped though as she caught sight of her own reflection in the bathroom mirror. A dirty, dishevelled, sunken cheeked girl looked back at her. Her head and left eye wrapped in filthy bandages and her red hair stiff and unruly, caked with dry LCL.

She poked again gently at the pad over her eye. The pain as she did so was instant and excruciating. She was tempted to peel it off and look underneath the bandages. But she knew that she wasn't ready for that just yet. The time for that would come all too soon.

But not yet. First she had to go and get Shinji. If he was still even there.

Leaving the house, with its outbuildings still unexplored, she set back off to the road and back to the shore where this nightmare had all begun.

She found him exactly as she had left him. Hunched over, sitting on the rough sand of the beach, staring blankly out over the red sea. She crouched down in front of him. His eyes were still the same. Dull, devoid of life, unfocussed. Only the shallow rise and fall of his chest and the occasional involuntary blink or shiver gave any sign that he was actually alive.

"Hey, Shinji." She said gently. "I-I know that I shouldn't have yelled at you or kicked you. Even though you do have a bony ass!" No reply.

"So… Let's start this whole this afresh huh? You forget that I kicked you and I'll forget the whole choking thing… You know… let bygones be bygones and all of that? Hmm… savvy?"

Still no response. She held a hand up to his face. His skin felt warm to touch and she could still see the rise and fall of his chest to prove that he was still alive.

The wind felt like ice against her own exposed skin, and the plugsuit did almost nothing to stop it either.

"Come on Shinji! We need to get off this stupid creepy beach before we die from exposure!" Nothing. "I've found us a place, it's only a couple of miles from here! It's not much, but I think you'll like it!"

He blinked and continued his unfocussed stare through her.

"Oh, for fuck's sakes Third Child!" She yelled harshly. "Stop being so fucking pathetic! We need to get to shelter, now! We don't have time for this shit! You can sit around feeling sorry for yourself when we're out of the cold and somewhere safe!"

Still he gave no indication of having heard her or even being aware of her presence. Feeling her anguish and frustration building up to unbearable levels she lashed out angrily with her right hand and struck him forcefully across the face.

"Arrrrrgh! Shit!" She screamed as her whole right arm lit up with unbelievable pain. She collapsed onto the sand in front of Shinji gasping and clutching her arm in agony as it felt as if it was being torn in two. Again.

Finally, mercifully, the exquisite agony of her right arm died down to the point where it was bearable. She looked up at Shinji from where she lay on the sand. He still sat there unmoved. Only a livid red hand mark on his left cheek giving any sign that she had even touched him.

"Well, shit." Asuka gasped getting painfully up onto her feet. "I won't be doing that again!"

Feeling the icy wind picking up strength and looking at the way the sky was darkening with threatening clouds she felt that it was time to get off this godforsaken shore and get to the shelter of the old cabin. Seeing there was nothing else for it she hooked her good hand under Shinji's shoulder and heaved. Surprisingly he rose to his feet with far less effort than she had feared it would take.

She looked at him suspiciously. His eyes were still flat and dull, no sign of the old Shinji there.

Feeling a little self conscious she grabbed hold of his hand in hers. "You'd better not be faking this Ikari!" She said threateningly.

The answer that she didn't expect didn't come.

"Come on then." She said, dragging him none too gently up the shore and away from the beach.

Quickly she noticed that as long as she kept pressure on his hand and kept moving he trailed along obediently behind her, but if she let go or stopped he would simply stop moving as if it was only her will that animated him at all. She found this deeply troubling, but at the moment she was also just grateful for the small mercy of being able to get them off that horrible shore and moving.

She was very keen to leave that place and its horrors behind her and onto the next stage in her life on this cold desolate landscape. Whatever that might be.

By the time they reached the small farmhouse the sky overhead had grown dark and threatening and the wind had picked up to almost gale force. Her face and ears ached from the cold bite of the air and she could see Shinji's lips had turned a pale shade of blue from the chill.

None too gently she dragged him up the steps and into the cabin and out of the wind.

"Well, what do you think, Third? It's not much, but it's home!"

Shinji gave no response or sign that he thought anything about the small cabin.

"I knew you'd like it." Asuka said with false cheeriness.

Leaving him standing in the middle of the main room she managed to force open the back door and went back out into the icy wind to gather up some wood for the fireplace. It wasn't easy, as holding anything more than a couple of small logs caused her immediate and intense pain from her arm and torso. After several trips she had a small pile of logs in the grate and several more stacked by the fireplace to last them for a while.

Scrounging through the kitchen she managed to find a couple of old books of matches and a small bottle of what smelled like kerosene. Liberally dousing the smaller bits of wood with the liquid she finally managed to get one of the matches to light and soon had a small but successful fire underway in the fireplace.

"There." She said in a satisfied voice to Shinji. "Not bad if I do say so myself! I am Asuka Langley Soryu, Fire-Bringer!" She said with a flourish.

Shinji remained standing where she had left him, showing not the least recognition of her or of her fire.

"Hmph!" She said. "Well it's more than you've done!"

The next priority for her was gathering up as many large pots and pans as she could find in the cabin and filling them with the rusty tasting water that came into the building from its outside water tank. Over the next while she heated up as much of this water as she could and ferried it across to the freestanding bath. Eventually she had it filled just over halfway with warm water and decided that was probably as much as she could afford to use.

While this was going on she had searched the house more fully and found candles, blankets, towels and a cupboard full of mothball smelling clothing. Most of it was worn and patched looking, as she would have expected to find in an old farm building like this. Obviously this hadn't been a hugely productive or profitable farm in its day. At that stage, she didn't care. Being able to get out of that plugsuit was her number one priority at that moment.

Outside it was growing darker and the old cabin rattled and banged in the growing storm that was brewing out there. None too gently she pushed Shinji back into one of the armchairs near the fire.

"Sit. Wait." She ordered him. "I'm gonna be a while."

Setting up a couple of candles in the small bathroom she looked nervously at the bandaged face in the mirror. She sighed to herself. "Best do this while the water is still warm…" she stripped off the filthy red plugsuit and threw it to the bathroom floor with a certain amount of revulsion, leaving herself standing completely naked except for her bandages.

She started with her arm. Carefully she began unwrapping the bandages, starting from her right knuckle and working up to her shoulder. Even in the cold she could feel the sweat prickling on her brow from the tension.

There it was. Beginning between her 2nd and 3rd knuckles was a livid red scar. She bit her lip painfully at the sight, but didn't stop removing the bandage. Rapidly more of the scar was being revealed. It didn't seem real. It was almost like someone had used a dark red marker to draw a straight line on both sides of her arm, from her hand all the way up to her shoulder. It was too neat, too perfectly straight. She ran her other hand along it. The scar was slightly raised and tender to the touch, but the flesh underneath it was whole.

Asuka shuddered at the memory of that very same arm splitting in two during that final battle. How it was whole at all was beyond her ability to comprehend.

Moving more quickly she removed the wrapping from around her torso. Here also were more red scars scattered across her abdomen and chest. This time they looked more like healed puncture wounds. She counted seven of them. Turning her back to the mirror she gasped to see seven corresponding red exit wounds dotting her pale and bare back.

"Oh… fuck…" she exhaled.

Her body was now completely uncovered. There was only one bandage left to remove.

She stared unblinkingly with her good eye as she gingerly unwrapped the bandage from around her forehead. Her hair had been pressed flat against her head by the bandage so that when it was removed it combined with her wild LCL encrusted hair to give her a wild and unhinged look.

All that was left was the gauze pad that had somehow been taped in place. She looked away from the mirror as she gently pulled the tape away from her skin and removed the pad from over her left eye. Closing her other eye and taking a deep breath she then forced both of them open again.

Her left eye stung and watered as it opened, but she breathed a massive sigh of relief as she knew that she could definitely still see through it. It was a little blurry due to being held shut for so long but it otherwise moved and focussed in unison with her right eye perfectly.

"Alright…" She said. "Time to check out the damage."

Turning back to face the mirror she examined the face of the wild haired girl in it closely. The injury to her eye was less dramatic than those on rest of her body, but it just as telling. A small scar ran from above her eyebrow down over her upper eyelid and down her lower lid for about three centimetres or so. Corresponding with those scars was a bloody red line in the white of her left eye that became a much darker line that split the still vivid blue of her iris perfectly down the centre.

Leaning her hands on the cold basin she rested her head against the mirror breathing deeply. It was both better and far worse than she had imagined. The relief at actually having an eye underneath that bandage that she could actually see out of was enormous, but… she couldn't escape the fact that she had been disfigured. Asuka Langley Soryu. The top Evangelion Pilot and one of most beautiful and popular girls in her school was a scarred and damaged nobody in a dead and indifferent World.

She stood like that for several minutes. Silently letting the tears stream down her face and spatter on the dirty vanity unit before her naked body's uncontrollable shivering brought back to herself.

"Ikuhayo Asuka… That bath isn't getting any hotter."

Strangely, the bath had not been any comfort to her. The dried LCL had taken a lot of scrubbing and effort to get off her skin and hair as the rusty tank water seemed to be impossible to get any kind of lather up in. But eventually she felt that she had cleaned all of the offensive smelling gunk off her body.

Lying there, naked and alone in a shallow bath full of what was now copper-coloured tepid water had brought back some of the still raw memories of her lowest ebb in the pre-Impact World.

Dragging her tired and aching body out of the tub she quickly dried off with one of the stiff and scratchy towels before wrapping it around her head and getting into the t-shirt, old cargo pants and hoodie that she had scavenged out of the cupboards. They were all a little too large for her, but after spending untold hours in that filthy and ragged Plug Suit, they felt almost luxurious against her newly scrubbed and sensitive skin.

Out in the living room Shinji was exactly where she had left him.

"Hey Baka! What do you think of my new ensemble?" She asked him as she twirled and posed in front of him suggestively. "It's the latest thing from the catwalks of Milan!"

Shinji remained silent, his fixed thousand-yard stare unwavering.

"Bah! What would you know anyway?" She said testily. "It's the end of civilisation as we know it and you're still in that stupid school uniform for fuck's sake!"

Annoyingly for Asuka, Shinji remained unmoved by her attack on his fashion sense.

"Hmph… Baka!" She retorted. This was getting her nowhere. Not to mention that she was so bone weary that she felt that just collapsing on the floor in the middle of the room was both an appealing and genuinely viable option. Despite this urge she forced her aching and tired body to the bedroom and dragged the futon grunting and heaving into the living room, roughly throwing it down in front of the fireplace.

Stoking up the fire with more logs and arranging the blankets and some cushions from the couch on the futon she stripped off down to the t-shirt, which was thankfully long enough to cover her otherwise bare body down to her thighs, she gratefully crawled under the covers and attempted to get herself comfortable.

"Don't you even think of trying to get in here with me, Third!" She said warningly. "If you try anything I promise that I will hurt you."

Shinji sat still as a statue on the armchair. Only the white of his shirt and the firelight reflecting off his open eyes in the darkness showing that he was even still there.

"Baka…" She muttered tiredly as she settled under the blankets.

Despite her weariness she found it impossible to get to sleep. The wind howled angrily outside the small cabin and the shutters creaked and rattled against it. Her arm and body ached and throbbed almost unbearably as she lay there. Each stab of pain reminding her of the brutality of her defeat at the hands of the Eva Series. Whenever she closed her eyes she could see their leering, eyeless faces. Their bright teeth and bloody red lips ripping at her, violating her. She tossed and turned and tried to chase the awful memories away, but they were always waiting, just behind her closed eyelids, to torture and torment her with her complete failure in what had been her final battle.

Each time she opened her eyes again she could see Shinji, still sitting there unmoved by her apparent suffering.

Finally she could take it no longer. "Shit!" She snarled, throwing back the blankets and getting to her feet.

"Come on then, idiot." She said to Shinji, pulling him roughly by the arm. With little effort she pushed him towards the futon and forced him to lie down on the side away from the fire. She then huddled back down on the mattress and arranged the blankets over them both.

"I'm only doing this for the warmth, Third Child." Asuka said as she got comfortable again. "Just promise you won't go all 'hospital ward room' on me… pervert."

He offered no reply as he lay there staring at the cracked ceiling of the cabin.

"I can't believe I'm here, doing this!" Asuka whispered to herself.

Despite her misgivings, no more nightmares troubled the exhausted girl as she slept into the night and well into the next morning.

End Chapter One.

I hope you enjoy this. Either way, please review. As I think my other story showed, I kinda suck at self editing. So please review, it's the only way I'll learn! :)