To Have Seen an Angel

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Author's Notes:

Greetings and salutations.   By popular demand I am hereby writing a multi-chapter Shinji/Asuka fic.  (PitViper quickly looks left, then right then left again.)  This will make three simultaneous multi-chapter fics I have in progress on FFN's Eva section.  (Cringes) Something has to give, at least I know it's not going to be my sanity – I lost that long ago. :)

So the setup for this story: It replaces episode 23.  I love alternate universes – almost all my fics fall into this category for Eva.  So I will be bending the events in Episode 23 to fit my image for this story.  Don't worry – OOCness will be kept as minimal as possible.  Just don't jump all over me when Shinji temporarily grows a backbone for this Prologue.  (He has to take a stand somewhere, and here's where he's going to do it!)  And I swear to you, this isn't Asuka bashing – I swear!

Like I said, this will be a Shinji/Asuka fic – so I ask that S/A fans bear with me – I have some emotional baggage of Asuka's to unpack before we get to the relationship part.  This story developed over a span of about 12 hours in my mind.   I hope you enjoy it.  So I ask here, and now, Should I continue?  Please, Read and Review.  

Update – 2002-05-27.  

For the love of god in heaven, I have to stop posting at 2:45 am.   Spell check butchered a word.  waist became waste.  I can't believe I missed that on the proof.   (Pitviper stomps up and down, and makes threatening motions at his computer.)     

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Title                  : To Have Seen an Angel

Universe            : Neon Genesis Evangelion

Genre               : Action/Romance

Type                 : Multi-chapter Story

Rating               : R  – Adult Language, Adult Situations, Graphic Violence

Disclaimer         : Gainax owns Evangelion.  So does ADV and others.  I don't.  This is just a fan-work.  Don't sue me.

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Prologue: The Barrier of the Soul

"Eva Unit 02 – LAUNCH!!!" Misato shouted as she watched Unit 00 become 'Infected' with the energy of the 16th Angel.  

The fire-red Unit 02 rocketed up the launch shaft towards the surface.   Its body poised and ready for release.   The demon-like creature looking like a messenger spawned in hell: its four eyes gazing eternally into the distance looking for 8a fight.  It's armored and body secured firmly to the launch-pad, arms at its side, almost casually.  Anyone looking at the Unit would say that it was as combat ready as ever.   Not a scratch marred its perfect red armor, and its power seemed to radiate from beneath its metal shell.   

As Rei struggled with the coil of light that was Armisael,  Unit 02's catapult hauled the monolithic red giant to street level.   Fifty meters worth of unadulterated destructive capacity stood calmly awaiting its release.  Had the human engineered weapon been carrying a sword or spear, it would have appeared to be an ancient medieval knight – standing proudly waiting to engage its enemy in mortal combat.   

With a snap, the safety restraints released the red giant – and Unit 02, the Production Model Evangelion – designed for combat against the Angels - immediately sagged.  

It was as though the weight of the universe had been placed upon its shoulders: the Titan could do nothing more than bear the burden – and perhaps be crushed under the tremendous force.   Unit's 02's eyes, normally aglow with red fire, remained transfixed into the distance.  Four lifeless orbs that could not see anything but an endless landscape of eternal despair.   

"Asuka… Move out!" Misato yelled, "Spread your AT Field!"  Misato yelled over the comm. channel.  

Although no communications window was open to see the face of the pilot of Unit 02, her voice was heard clearly.  "I can't make it move.  It won't move." 

"Asuka!!!" Misato yelled again.  

-

Rei stood in a lake of LCL – submerged to her waist in the yellow-orange substance.   Another Rei stood, hovering on the surface of the material.   

"Do you feel that?" The voice asked.   "Can you feel that?"  It was Rei's voice, but it was not Rei speaking.  

"Yes." Came Rei's soft voice.  

"That is your heart, is it not?" 

Rei's eyes gazed at the surface of the lake, pointed in the direction where they would find her feet in normal circumstances.  "It is." 

"There – do you feel that – just now?"

Veins erupted from the submerged Rei's abdomen, stretching across her plug suit – a terrible malignancy that spread like wildfire.   But it was not the source of the feeling.   This feeling was coming from somewhere else.   "Yes." 

"This pain.  It is loneliness, is it not?"

"Yes."

"Do you wish to become one with me, to end this loneliness?" Armisael asked with Rei's voice.  

"No."  Rei looked at the being, as the veins spread across her face.  "I am I.  I am not you." 

"I… See." Armisael said, his form becoming less like Rei.  "You are you.  And you wish to remain you, even with this pain."

"Yes." 

"It may be too late.  We are already becoming one…"  The image paused for a moment, a glow beginning.  "But… for the Mother I shall try…" The glow intensified as Rei watched the being known as Armisael begin to change.  Familiar features began to appear on the form, "Another has appeared, one who does not wish to exist any longer." 

Rei felt the veins fading away, as though they never were.   "What do you mean?" 

"She has already been encountered by one of us.  Her distress is palatable, do you not feel it, Mother?"  The being known as Armisael began to fade away.

"I can feel…" Rei thought for a moment, but her mind was blank, "nothing."  For the first time in her life, she realized what emotions were, she felt her emptiness – and now felt nothing.   Why did she feel nothing?  Because Armisael was no longer feeding her the emotions.   But she was aware of something else, now.  Emptiness she wished to fill.   A void – the void that forms herself.   The void that occupies her heart. 

As Armisael faded from existence, she said:  "It does not matter, Mother.  After I accomplish my goal, I will return to you, and help you to heal your soul…" 

As Rei returned to consciousness in her Entry Plug, she noticed that the infection veins that had been making their way across her body were gone.   Still, though, as she sat in her plug, and watched as the Angel Armisael tore itself free from her Evangelion, she felt something come from her eye.   She watched as the wetness fell into the LCL.   Different from the LCL, it stood out.   It had come from her eye.   Saltwater.   'Is this a tear?'  She thought, then asked aloud, "Am I the one crying?" 

-

Asuka Langley Sohryu sat in her immobile Unit 02.   "I can't move it… It won't move.  Why won't it move?"  She asked over and over, as she watched the disfigured form of Unit 00 slowly absorb the angel of light.   

"Asuka!!!" Misato's voice echoed over the open comm. channel.   

"I can't!"  The once proud red-head almost in tears at the prospect.   'Now I am useless.   That which defines me, is gone.   I am… nothing.   I do not exist.   I do not wish to exist.'   

The next moment, Asuka heard Akagi say over the speakers, "She can't do it, Misato.   Her Sync rate's under ten percent.  She can barely start the engine, let alone move the monster."

"I… wish…" Her voice was cut off by Misato's order.

"Pull her back, she's a sitting duck out there." Misato's voice echoed in her ears.  

'I am worthless.'  The thought passed through her mind like lightning, and burnt her.   She could feel the power of its energy flow through her, searing her skin, puncturing her abdomen.   'NO!'  She realized that it wasn't just an emotional response.  Something had… entered her… again.

-

"Pull her back!  She's a sitting duck out there!" Misato yelled at the techs, who began the work of withdrawing the catapult.   As their hand's quickly moved about their task, Misato watched the screen impatiently.  'I'm sorry, Asuka…' Misato lamented.  

One second past, the techs needed only a few more – but it was not to be. 

Misato watched in horror as the band of light tore itself away from Unit 00, and dove rapidly at Unit 02.    Without an active AT Field being projected, the absorption of the energy was almost instantaneous.   Misato's eyes widened as she watched the Unit jolt backwards, thrown into the catapult that had previously held it.  

"Belay that order!" Gendo Ikari shouted from the High Tower,  the cold steel of his voice echoed throughout the room.  His voice, however, shook slightly when he gave the next order – "Release Unit 01 immediately." Gendo said.  "His orders:  Destroy Units 00 and 02.  Both have been corrupted by the angel, therefore both must be destroyed at all costs." 

Misato glanced up at him, fury in her eyes at the suggestion, "What about the pilots?" 

"They are… expendable."  Gendo intoned.  

Unnoticed by those below, Gendo Ikari's hand was clenching and unclenching at his side.   Most would have recognized this as the same trait that Shinji had when he was extremely angry – or extraordinarily nervous.   

"Even Rei – Expendable?"  Misato muttered loudly.  

"DO IT NOW, MAJOR – Before it's too late!" Gendo yelled, his fist clenching tightly.

Misato glanced at the monitor, and noticed the determination on the face of Unit 01's Pilot.  The techs had opened the channel to Unit 01 shortly after Misato had ordered Asuka's retrieval – in anticipation of his launch.  Therefore, Shinji Ikari had heard ever word said by his father.

Shinji Ikari had a demonic scowl on his face.   "Let me go Misato."  Four simple words, an imperative filled with unbridled determination.   No hesitation present, the confidence exuded rivaled even his father's collected coolness.   His blue eyes cast a cold darkness across all who met them.  

Even Misato had to avert her gaze – the terror contained within burned with a coldness she thought him impossible of possessing.  

"Do you understand the mission?" Gendo Ikari asked.   

"Clearly… Commander." Shinji intoned, the disgust evident on that last word made Fuyutsuki flinch.   If words had a flavor, those two would classify as 'acid'.  

-

"Help me,  someone – ANYONE!"  Asuka screamed, her body afire with the energy that was Armisael.   As she slipped into unconsciousness, one last breath brought the words from her mouth – "Mother… help me."

-

Within the void that was the landscape of Asuka's mind, Armisael began the procedure of merging his essence into the form of this particular Lillum.  

Asuka appeared shortly after, up to her knees in LCL, her face clasped in her hands.  

Armisael took shape – and that shape happened to mirror Asuka's form.   "You Lillum are defenseless creatures.  Did no one even teach you the basics of defending the mind?" 

"Who?"  Asuka stumbled, "Who are you?"

"I shall tell you the name I have received, my designation as given to me by the thoughts of our Mother –the one you call Ayanami Rei.   I am Armisael."  The figure bowed to Asuka respectfully. 

"Armisael?"

"Your mind would designate me as that known as an Angel." The being reiterated for the confused red-head.  

"NO!  Not another one.   Don't defile my mind!  Not Again!" 

At this Armisael blinked in shock, "Defile your mind?  No one has defiled your mind, little one." The angel said.   His energy was saturating the young human, altering her for his purposes.    "It is not my intent to defile.   I sensed your Loneliness, your pain.   I understand you, Asuka Langley Sohryu." 

"You Lie!" Asuka accused, the veins spreading across her hands and face.   She looked at her hands and then the reflection of her face in the LCL.  "You Lie!  I'm being defiled as we speak!"

"You speak of the distortion of your self-image?" The Angel asked, curiously.   "But it is necessary for our light to become one.   The damage is only temporary until the light of our souls are merged.  Do you not wish to become one with me?  To merge with me?" 

"Hell NO!" Asuka said defiantly.   "You bastard!  You're just like the last one!" 

"Areal simply tried to commune with you." Armisael shook his head, "Her intent was not to invade, but to try to help.  We are all children of Adam, little one.   Why will you not let us return him to his proper place?" Armisael said sadly.  

"You are lying!  Mother! Help Me!"  Asuka's mind screamed, "Don't let this happen again to me!" 

Suddenly another form appeared, standing on the LCL as Armisael's image did.   Asuka recognized the image immediately.

"So, the Lillum weapon has a Lillum soul as well?" Armisael asked the image of Kyoko Zeppelin Sohryu. 

"It does at that." The spirit said. 

"You can't stop this.   I am already one with her." Armisael said.  

At this, the image of Kyoko smiled.   "Oh, your power is one with my daughter.   But you are not."

Armisael blinked, then tried to command the Lillum body he had invaded.   He expressed shock as he discovered  that he could not command the shell of the Second Child.  "Impossible." 

"Evangelion, a container for a soul."  Kyoko smiled wider, "Evangelion, engineered from Natus de Adamo – the flesh of Adam."  At this, the elder Sohryu laughed, "Does not every angel long to return to the flesh of the Father?"

"I shall cast you out, abomination!" Armisael screamed in fury, his form reverting to energy.   

Kyoko smiled at her daughter, "Asuka, my love.  Be well, be strong, and know I will always love you."

"Mama?" Asuka said with tears in her eyes.  

"You cannot hold me off forever, Lillum puppet master!" Armisael screamed in the distance.   

"I need not hold you off forever, Angel.  Just long enough to get my daughter to safety…"

With a surge of energy, the contact between Mother, Daughter, and Angel was broken.   And the battle of wills between the Angel and the mother's soul began in the shell of Unit 02. 

-

Shinji Ikari growled in anger.  His Evangelion followed suit.   "Hurry Up!"  He yelled into the LCL, bubbles distorting in waves from his voice.  

"Shinji, they're moving as fast as they can." 

"It's not fast enough!" Shinji yelled back, frustrated at the lack of progress.  

"Ten seconds." Akagi said calmly in the distance.  

After doing a quick pre-launch which took five seconds, Shinji yelled, "Get me up there!" 

"Five." Ritsuko said.  

Shinji flipped several switches.  'Hold on Asuka, Rei.  I'm coming.'

"Four."

Shinji thought of two perfect violin notes harmonizing with his cello chords.   'They will not be lost.'

"Three."

'Commander… he is no longer my father.' Shinji thought.   Unit 01's eyes glowed bright white in anticipation.   'As long as he is the Commander, he can never be my father.' 

"Two." 

'Rei.  I feel something for her.  Is it love?  I don't know.   More like… a reminder of something.  Mother, perhaps?  No.   I feel mother here.  But I am close to Rei.  I wish I knew more about her.' Shinji positioned himself in his seat, holding his hands over the manual release of the restraints.

"One."

'Asuka'  Shinji's eyes became soft at the thought of the fiery red-headed German.  'While I do not exactly know what it is about her, perhaps it is that fire that burns within.   I wish I had that fire within myself.  I wish I could be as strong as she is, to be able to face all these demons within and win.  My heart, it aches thinking of the torture she is experiencing.  Perhaps… perhaps if I show her that I have courage, that I'm willing to fight, somewhere I just might find a place in her heart.'  He looked upwards to the heavens and the battle above.  'For you, Asuka.' 

"Evangelion Unit 01 – LAUNCH!" Misato yelled.   

Shinji smiled for the briefest of moments, 'Be my strength, Mother.   Help me to save the ones I love.' 

-

Unit 01 launched upwards along with the catapult.   The purple Titan gazing upwards, its jaw loose, its gruesome teeth showing in its gigantic mouth.  Where Evangelion 02 was a demon, Unit 01 was a monster to rival any other.   Its ferocious stance and glowing white eyes, were the windows into the tremendous amounts of energy harnessed within the armor restraints of the Artificial Humanoid construct. 

One instant before the giant reached the end of the ramp, Shinji pressed the buttons releasing the final safety interlocks.   The catapult halted at ground level, but the Evangelion kept going up.   Once the purple mecha was one hundred fifty meters in the air, the creature howled in sheer anger.   The booming voice shattering any windows left in the embattled section of town. 

-

"Energy buildup in Unit 01!" Makoto shouted.  

"S2 reaction confirmed!" Ritsuko screamed, "It's fully active, on internal power!"

Maya stuttered, "A..AT Field detected, p…pattern… Red!   Magi are reporting, all sensors in the section are being nulled out!  AT Field's blocking everything.   Even subatomic particles!"   

Misato's mouth hung open as she watched the Eva hover in mid-air.

"SECOND AT FIELD!" Maya shouted, "Same pattern, its folding!" 

All watched as the cameras captured the show from a distance, all local feeds were cut off.   Unit 01 hovered in the air, at an altitude of two hundred meters.   Its arms clasped around itself, and a terrifying bellow ensued as the creature practically curled up into a ball.   With a surge, it stretched out – its arms flying open, and it's back arching.   An instant later, six wings of pure energy erupted from beneath the armor.

"I'd say he's pissed." Fuyutsuki muttered to himself while watching an awe-inspired Gendo. 

"Professor… this is not in the scenario."  Gendo watched the screen, his eyes transfixed as Unit 01 continued to hover.  

"My god, just what is that monster?" Misato asked from below.  

Ritsuko answered, not thinking straight herself, "A copy… of something far, far, worse."

"Shinji…"  Misato muttered. 

-

Unit 01 hovered for a few more moments, the pain of expanding its wings fading away.   Unit 01 - a sentinel defying all the known laws of the universe.   Including the most obvious one – Gravity.  Casually the Unit 01's head glanced at the distorted remains of Unit 00.   "I'm going to retrieve Ayanami first.  It appears that her unit is damaged beyond operation.   I doubt that she'll be a threat to anyone." 

Shinji didn't wait for a confirmation.   With a flick of his will, Unit 01 dove for its fallen comrade.  Landing on the street before the stricken unit, 01's feet implanted themselves solidly into the ground.   Unit 00's head moved slowly in the direction of Unit 01.

-

"Ayanami!" Shinji yelled over the comm. channel.   

A window popped open to show a slightly bruised Ayanami Rei.   Although the veins had disappeared, her skin showed marks where they had been.  "…Pilot I..Ikari." Rei said softly, her body sore, but intact.  "Leave…me…"  She licked her lips, despite being submerged in LCL.  "Help… help Sohryu."

"No." Shinji said, willing the Evangelion to grasp the blue unit's arm.   Crouching down, Eva 01 effortlessly picked up Rei's battered mecha.   The AT wings dissipating to make room to place the damaged titan on its back.  

"Stop… Armisael.  Take over… Unit 02…" Rei managed, before unconsciousness found her once more. 

"Don't worry Rei.  I'll save you both." 

Another comm. window popped open, Misato's concerned face appeared.   "Shinji… We're detecting a reaction in Unit 02.   Get yourself and Rei back down here, now!" 

"Not without Asuka!" 

Misato was about to argue with him, when she was interrupted

 "Third AT Field detected!" Maya screamed in  the background, "Pattern… BLUE!" 

"Angel in Unit 02!" Misato screamed.  

"Wait!" Maya screamed.  "Unit 02 sending eject signal to the entry plug.   Fourth AT Field detected, Pattern… Unknown!"

"Shinji…" Misato started to instruct, but Shinji cut off her channel. 

'So this is the way they want to play it?'  Shinji snarled, "Fine by me." 

Just as Shinji was about to lay Rei's mecha back down, he noticed the back of Unit 02's distorted body slide open.   Shinji's eyes narrowed.  'I get one shot at this.  Gotta make it count.'

After analyzing his options in the brief instant he had, Shinji decided he didn't have time to put down Rei and catch Asuka's plug.   However, with having to balance Unit 00's body, both of Unit 01's hands were full.  

As Shinji started running, he saw the puff of white smoke that was the precursor to a force-ejection.  He ran faster.   

"I will… hold… the plug."  Ayanami said softly, Unit 00's free arm flexing its hand.  "I will hold it for you, Pilot Ikari." 

"Hai." Shinji replied.  He trusted Ayanami implicitly. 

In the instant that it took Shinji to breath twice, Unit 02's entry plug ejected.   Shinji leapt into the air.   Unit 00's free arm shot out, and grasped the still moving white cylinder that was an entry plug.   The rocket motors continued to burn as the unit held onto the white plug with a death-grip.   

As Unit 01 reached the ground, the rocket motors died out, and Rei was able to relax the grip on the entry plug.   She moved the arm, and cradled it closer to Unit 01's chest, in a protective fashion.

Shinji didn't stop moving, however.   The Eva's feet carried him quickly to the launch pad that had brought him to the surface.

"Do not… underestimate Armisael, Pilot Ikari." Rei said.  "Unit 02 is… holding him.  Do not let him escape." 

Shinji nodded knowingly, "There will be a core." 

"Hai." Rei replied.  

Shinji nodded, "Protect her, Ayanami.  And protect yourself.   I want to see both of you when this is over." 

Ayanami Rei stared at him for a few moments, slowly blinking as he laid Unit 00 on the retrieval platform.  Right before she closed the channel, a small smile crossed her face.  "Hai."  The channel was closed, and the platform lowered into the ground.     

Unit 00 protectively curled around the relatively delicate entry plug of Unit 02, it's hands cradling the object with almost motherly care.     

Unit 01 whirled around to look at the form of Unit 02.   It's armor had reformed to what it was before, but there was blue blood oozing from the cracks in the armor plating.  

'Best to take care of this quickly.  Asuka wouldn't like it if I had to completely disassemble Unit 02 to get that damn core out of it.' Shinji growled, and the Eva mirrored his action.  

Armisael gained enough control over the stubborn mecha to be able to use it as a temporary body.   'Pitiful Lillum devices…' The creature thought to itself.   Yes, the Eva was powerful.  But, most of his energy was being used to control the mecha and the Lillum soul it housed.   Still, as long as his core interfaced directly with the copy of Adam, he could control it.   The Eva let out an earth-shattering growl as its red eyes looked in the direction of Unit 01. 

To say that Armisael was shocked to find out that he was staring at this 'being' from only a few meters away would be an understatement.    Before Armisael could react, Eva 01 drove its hand into the abdomen of Unit 02.   

The red Eva screamed in protest; had there been any windows left in the town, they would have shattered.

Unit 01 ignored the blue blood washing over its hand.   His AT Field effectively prevented any of the contaminated blood from infecting his Eva.   A smile washed over Shinji's face as he felt the object he was seeking.   "There it is!" He bellowed in triumph.   

-

Armisael felt himself torn from the body he had worked so hard to dominate.   No longer connected to the Eva, his mind reverted to a vision of an endless sea of LCL.  

There were others near here.  He could sense them on the edges of his consciousness.   "Who is there?"

"You hurt Rei!  You hurt Asuka!" The mental voice of a young male Lillum accused.  

"You hurt she who would be my daughter…" A female Lillum voice insisted, chiming with the male voice.

A third voice, fainter, but by far more terrifying made the final accusation.   "You attempted to betray my children, Messenger."

Armisael recognized the source of this voice.  "But… I sensed… you… you were in the shell of the Lillum hybrid, Mother!"

"My soul is partly in the shell of Ayanami Rei.  My original body is housed in the Room of Gauf within the Black Moon as it has been for centuries.   But you know that even a hybrid shell cannot contain the force of my intellect, nor the totality of my being.  I am I." The more distant voice said.   "Betrayer!"

Armisael shrank back far within his own mind, trying to pull the tattered remains of his AT Field around himself like a blanket.  "Please, Mother!"

"The fate you shall suffer was cast by your own ignorance and blind foolishness, Messenger.   You are not my offspring."  Lilith commanded from a distance.  

Armisael sensed it then, the power of Lilith's soul, contained within the shell of a mortal human/angel hybrid.   Lilith was lying to him.  'No… She is lying to herself.'  The child contained all her spirit – yet it was hidden away from her conscious thoughts.   "I see."

"The price of your actions is death, sixteenth Messenger."  Lilith commanded.  

"Death." The Lilum male agreed.  

"Death." The female Lilum pronounced.  

-

At that moment, Shinji and Unit 01 squeezed.   The Unit's AT Fields merged, and sliced into the red crystalline core. 

Moments later, a gigantic cross-shaped explosion erupted from the location of Units 01 and 02.  The merged AT Fields directing most of the energy upwards to the heavens.    

-

Misato watched the white, static filled monitor for any signs that Shinji had survived the explosion.  

Ritsuko had said that the output of the S2 Reaction was only slightly less than the explosion that wiped out the Antarctic.   The price was that several blocks of the city were now vaporized – but had the explosion not been contained, it would have wiped out Japan and part of costal China.

"Is he gone?" Misato asked softly.  

"No signal." Makoto confirmed.  Shirgeru stared at his board, hoping that something would show on his screen.  

"Magi say that the AT Fields that were being projected by Unit 01 have fallen silent." Ritsuko reported.   "Nothing could have survived that explosion." 

Misato nodded, but continued to stare.  

Suddenly, a dark shape resolved itself in the pillar of fire that still burnt high into the sky.   It moved with surprising fluidity through the hellish inferno generated by the S2 detonation.   As the shape became more defined, it appeared to be two shapes.   Misato held her breath as she realized what it was.   

Artificial Humanoid Evangelion Unit 01 moved gracefully from the towering flames, which were finally beginning to dissipate.   Their source of fuel gone, their energy expended; the flames would soon become small burring piles of loosely associated carbon molecules.   The Evangelion ignored the flames licking at its armored feet, not caring what remains of automobiles or buildings it was treading on.    For the Evangelion was focused on the damaged body that it was carrying – the red form of Unit 02.

Misato let out her breath with a relieved yell, "SHINJI!"

Shinji's face appeared calmly on the monitor.   "Mission accomplished, Commander."  He said, looking his father straight in the eye.   

"You disappoint me." Gendo said, straight-faced.  

Shinji simply blinked, "I don't care.  If you harm either Asuka or Rei, Commander, I will kill you." 

"You'll be arrested the moment you exit Unit 01." Gendo notified his wayward son.  'Definitely not in the scenario.' 

"Mother wouldn't like that, Commander." Shinji informed his father.  

Gendo blinked, "What do you mean?" 

"She has a message for you.   'Stop using my name, Rokubungi.'" Shinji said, without a trace of hesitation.

Doctor Akagi's eyes went wide.  'How the hell did he know about that… unless…' 

"Can… you speak to her?" Gendo asked. 

Shinji nodded, "Now that I know that she is here." 

"Tell… tell her I love her." 

"No."

Gendo blinked.  "What?"

"I won't lie to Mother.  Because if you loved her, you would have loved me.  You didn't even care about me until I became useful to you.   So, no, Commander.  I shall not tell her that you love her.  How could you?  The Commander loves nothing." Shinji announced.  

"Everything I've done, all that I've tried to do, was to bring her back." Gendo admitted.   

Shinji sighed, "Then you ignored me, stopped loving me, just to bring her back?"

Gendo broke down, "I can't live with out her!"

"Well…" Shinji said softly, "You might have to learn to.  Because if by some miracle Evangelion 01 releases her someday, she will most certainly be able to live without you."  

Gendo collapsed to his knees, as Shinji turned his head to Misato.  "I'm in position for retrieval." 

Misato opened her mouth to speak, but couldn't force the words out.   Finally, after three tries, "R…Retrieve Eva 01."

"Hai!" Makoto replied.  

"Commander." Shinji said softly, waiting for the lift to move again.   

Gendo looked up at his son.  

"Mother doesn't love the Commander.  She loves the man who was Gendo Rokubungi.  If you can become him again, then she might still love you – on one condition." 

"N…Name it." 

"That we become a family again." Shinji said.  

"I… I don't know how to be a father." Gendo said, looking into his son's pleading eyes.   Darkness descended within his soul as he realized just how disappointed his son was in him.   'My god, I used him…' 

Just as Shinji was about to cut the channel, Gendo spoke one last time, "But tell her, I can learn."

Shinji nodded and cut the channel.

Fuyutsuki chuckled from the corner.   "I was wondering how long it would take before she got pissed off enough at you to do something about it." 

Gendo re-composed himself, staring at his old professor.  "Kouzou, what have I done?"

"What you had to do." The old professor said, "What you always do – turned death into a fighting chance to live.  There was only one real mistake you made.  Your son deserved better than that.   As does your daughter."  

"My daughter?" 

Kouzou smiled warmly, "What else can she be?  You gave her the name, and Yui accepted her as her own until the dummy plug.  Don't think that she's any less your daughter than Shinji is your son."  

"I would have sacrificed both of them." Gendo gasped.   "I… I am a monster." 

"No." Fuyutsuki sighed, "You're just a human being.  A monster wouldn't have cared about Yui at all."

Gendo nodded at him, "Of course, Fuyutsuki-sensei." 

"Now, if you want my advice, go down and make amends with your family.  The Seventeenth will be here soon… and we all know what happens after that." Kouzou said sadly.   "I hope that this changes at least some of your plans?"

Gendo nodded.   "Had she died, Kouzou, I wouldn't have had a problem with it.  But this is my Rei…  She's… special to me." 

"Why don't you go down and tell her just how special she is.  And tell Shinji as well… he deserves to know he has a sister."  Kouzou smiled.   The old professor, for the first time in a long, long while, was thinking warm thoughts about the future.

-

Shinji moved silently towards the taped off area near Evangelion Unit 00.   Of course, his own area had been taped off, the blue ooze from Unit 02 was all over everything except his Eva.   He had only powered down the Evangelion once Misato had confirmed that 'The Commander' hadn't ordered his immediate imprisonment for 'Disobeying orders.'   Shinji chuckled to himself slightly, 'Mother would never allow it.'  A smile crossed his face as he ducked under the tape.   In the distance, by Unit 02's plug, Ayanami Rei stood watch over the currently unopened container.    Shinji made his way over to the blue haired girl with a light smile.    "Ayanami!" 

"Pilot Ikari." Rei greeted him in her usual way, then went back to watching the plug.  

"Rei?" Shinji asked, momentarily using the girl's first name.  

"Yes, Ikari?" 

Shinji inspected the bruising on her skin, "You're injured.  You should get someone to look at those bruises." 

"It is unimportant.   You ordered me to protect Sohryu."

Shinji blinked, "Ayanami… It w…wasn't an order.  I just wanted to make sure that you would be okay." 

"You clearly ordered me to watch the second." Ayanami said, a look of confusion crossing her face.   

Shinji shook his head, "I… I asked you to watch over Asuka, and told you to make sure that you protected yourself as well.  You should have sought medical attention.  Those bruises look like they hurt!"

"I… It's unimportant." 

"Please, Rei, for me… I can watch over Asuka now…"

"No." Rei said, her right arm moving to grasp her left, as she worried at her lower lip for a moment – a clear sign of nervousness.

"Why?"

Rei stared blankly at him, not responding.    

"Rei?"

"I…" 

"What, is something wrong with Asuka?" 

Rei averted her gaze.  "I… had opened her plug."  

"Is she alright?" 

"She… Lives."

Shinji moved suddenly towards the plug.  Rei's arm shot out and grasped his upper arm with surprising strength – stopping the fifteen year old boy dead in his tracks.  Shinji whirled around on Ayanami, surprised that she would initiate contact – and that someone so frail in appearance could stop him so easily.    But when he looked into her eyes, he noticed something there.  It was something he never noticed before in her – fear.  

"Rei?" 

"It is best we wait for Doctor Akagi." Rei said, not wanting to reveal the source of the haunted look that crossed her face.   

"What's wrong, I have to know Ayanami!" 

"She's… not the same, Pilot Ikari."

"What do you mean!" Shinji yelled, watching Rei shrink back from him.  

"Armisael… when he merged with Unit 00, he was also trying to merge with me.   These… bruises… are where he tried to change my body."

Shinji went wide-eyed.   "We've got to help her…" Shinji went to move towards the plug again, and Rei again stopped him.  

"No." Rei re-enforced.  

"We can't leave her in there… We can't!" Shinji struggled to release the grip the young blue-haired pilot had on his arm to no avail.   

"Akagi will be here soon.  You… don't want to see it."  Rei blinked a tear away, 'I don't want you to see this, Shinji-kun.'

"IT?" 

"Asuka." Rei said sadly.   "She would not want you to see her like this."  

"I… I don't care how injured she is…" 

"It is not a matter of injury, Ikari."  Rei's gaze met his, "It's a matter that she's been changed by her contact with Armisael.  She wouldn't want you… to see her like this."

Shinji summoned his strength, and tore himself away from Rei's grasp.   Rei made no further motion to stop him.   He quickly approached the Entry plug, and operated the controls to work the slide release on the top.   The top slid away cleanly, operating as normal.  Shinji climbed up to the edge and looked inside. 

"That baka couldn't even keep you out of here, could she?  Well, that's what I get for trusting a doll, after all." Asuka's voice came sadly from the dark end of the plug.   "Come here to see the former Second Child, eh Ikari?   Want to gloat?  I can hear you now – 'Yea yea, I ripped the Demon's Unit Two to shreds.   Hip Hip Hurray! I saved the day!'"  The sarcastic voice droned on.   

"Asuka?" Shinji whispered, "I… I… Came to see… if you were alright?" 

A sad chuckle came from the darkened corner, "Alright?  I screamed for fifteen minutes after I saw what happened to me."  Again the sad chuckle,  "I guess… I guess I got what I deserved out of all this.   All this time, picking on that blue-haired freak… figures - now I'm a freak too." 

"Asuka…" Shinji said softly, trying to see her in the plug.   

"First I get mind fucked.   Yeah, there's no other way to describe it really.   The Fifteenth did a real number on me.   The big number one, right up the brain case." 

"Number one?" Shinji asked. 

"BAKA… Roman Numeral One!!!   Think what it looks like you Perv.   Then think what that fucking Angel did to me!  Well, needless to say, what that fucking angel did to my mind was nothing compared to what Armisael did to my body!  Do you want to see, Third Child?  Do you want to know just what kind of fucked-up freaking thing this monster did to me?" 

"I… I just want to make sure that you…you're alright."  Shinji reiterated, looking into the darkness.  

A figure burst out from the darkness and grabbed him by the shoulders.   The being's fingers dug into his shoulders and dragged him into the plug.   In fright, Shinji had closed his eyes, "Please Asuka!  Don't hit me…  I'm sorry." 

"'I'm sorry… I'm SORRY!'  Look, you stupid idiot!  You didn't do this to me!"  She yelled, while Shinji still had his eyes closed, tears coming from the edges.  "You say you're sorry!  Well, look at what you're apologizing for, Look at the worthless second child – newly become freak of nature!" 

Shinji resolutely kept his eyes closed.   

"I SAID LOOK!!!" Asuka yelled.  

Shinji's eyes opened, and he looked at her body.   The first thing he noticed was that her plug suit was ripped in several places.   But, unlike Ayanami, her exposed skin was not covered with bruises.  In fact – it was perfectly unmarked – but it was not untouched.   The exposed skin was ghost white.   The same color as Ayanami's.   That wasn't all.  Shinji's gaze moved upwards, her physical appearance seemed mostly unchanged, except that she seemed slightly thinner.   Unchanged, that was, until he made it to her shoulders.  Not that there was anything wrong with Asuka's shoulders, but that was where her long, cascading hair, billowed and first became noticed by his eyes. The long locks of hair flowed around her shoulders.   But gone was the fire-red color associated with the 'Demon' Asuka.  It was now an ice blue, a few shades darker than Rei's.   Shinji quickly moved to her face, and noticed the tear streaks falling down the alabaster skin.   The tears still flowing from deep red eyes.  Eyes that were same color as Ayanami's.  But where Ayanami's eyes had betrayed only slight hints of what was beneath – these crimson orbs showed the awful truth of the pain Asuka was suffering.    Shinji glanced away from her disturbing stare.   

Asuka blinked for a moment, then threw Shinji against the plug wall.  "You bastard.   Can't even look me in the eyes anymore.  I must be one fucked up freak for that."  She collapsed to her knees.  

"I… I didn't mean that!"  Shinji stuttered in his defense.

"Well.   Maybe now, you like me more!" Asuka spat out.  "Now that I'm like your precious doll, Ayanami!" 

Shinji shifted uncomfortably under her gaze.   "Asuka… I've always liked you…  Yes, I care about Ayanami, but I've always cared about you too!   I wouldn't have kissed you if I didn't…"  Shinji quickly slapped his hand over his mouth, expecting a slap from the former red-haired demoness.  

Instead he saw her avert her gaze.  "I guess… that doesn't matter anymore, does it?"  She grasped her legs and pulled them up to her, sitting in the remnants of the LCL in the plug.  Her head buried behind her knees, her LCL drenched hair loosely falling to cover her face.   "I'm defiled – completely, totally, and utterly.  Both physically and mentally, I'm impure."  Asuka let out another sad laugh, "From Hero to Zero.   Behold the fallen Asuka Langley Sohryu.  Once the prodigy of Evangelion, now Angel potpourri."      Sobs began to rack her form.  "Next thing… next thing you know, I'll be running around saying in some fucking monotone voice – 'I'm not a doll!'" 

"Asuka…" Shinji whispered, then got up.  'Perhaps not all my courage was used against my father.' Shinji thought to himself. 

The sobbing second child felt arms gently encompass her body, and felt a chin on her shoulder next to her ear. 

"Asuka, I… I don't know when I first realized it.  Maybe it was during the fifteenth's attack.  When father wouldn't let me help you.  I wanted to, so badly, to come up there and take that pain away."

Asuka sobbed more, wanting to refute the declaration made by the Third Child, but could not find the space between sobs to do it.   

"I knew Rei would rescue you.  And it wasn't just because father ordered it.   We… we care about each other, Asuka.  I could see it in Rei's eyes… I think she cares about you too." 

"B…Ba…Baka…" Asuka finally forced out.  "You don't… don't love me.   You can't love me.  I'm… I'm… violated." 

"We can't just turn our feelings off and on like a light switch, Asuka.  When… I thought about the possibility that Rei might not be able to save you, I tried to think of my life without you.   Without the fiery, red-headed, Asuka.   You know what, If Rei hadn't stopped that angel when she did, the force of that thought would have caused Unit 01 to rip itself from the bakelite restraints and fly up to rescue you.  I… I couldn't tolerate being without you, Asuka."

"You… You can't mean that." 

"I do, Asuka.   If there was no one left on the Earth, and I could choose only one person to have with me, it would be you." Shinji said, tightening his embrace around the shuddering Asuka.

"Baka… Baka…" Asuka said.   "You're only saying that… that… because I look like her." 

"No… Asuka.  I'm saying that because I love you.   I love your fiery red hair, and deep blue eyes." Shinji said, "I don't see blue hair and red eyes when I look at you, Asuka.  I can never see that." 

"But… that's what I have now, Shinji.  I'm not me, anymore." 

"Your physical appearance means very little.  I've seen little glimpses of the real Asuka Sohryu,  tiny although they may be.   That's the Asuka I love." Shinji moved his hand to cover her heart, "Right here – the Asuka in here.  That's the person I want to get to know.  The person I want to be around.  You." 

"Baka." Asuka muttered one last time, bringing her hand up to his.  

"Let me in, Asuka.  Let's heal the injuries." 

Asuka laughed a little, but this wasn't some depressive laugh – it was a laugh of hope.   "Its kind of hard to heal blue hair and red eyes, Shinji-kun."

Shinji laughed a little too, "So, go down to the market and buy some red hair dye and get Ritsuko to give you some colored contacts.  Jeeze."

Asuka's gaze met Shinji's, and he did not turn away this time.  "You better mean what you've said, Baka."  

"You have my word, we'll get through this.   Together, Asuka." 

"Baka." She said, this time the phrase encompassing all her hopes and fears and dreams.  "Will you help me?" 

"Of course.  Anything you want." 

"We'll start with the hair." Asuka said, a small smile forming on her face, "and then we'll see where it goes from there." 

Shinji nodded, "While we wait for Doctor Akagi, tell me a little about yourself.   I mean, I know next to nothing – except you're the beautiful Red-headed demon Pilot of Unit 02… Which I managed to save, by the way…"  Shinji smirked as he saw her eyes widened.  "I… I… mean… I was just thinking about what you were going to do with me when you seen what I did to it… then I thought about what you'd…. you'd do to me if I let it get destroyed along with the angel.   Suddenly, the angel possessed Eva wasn't so scary anymore."   Shinji gave her a little smile.   

"BAKA, What did you do to MY UNIT 02!" Asuka's face turned beat red – the former color of her hair. 

"I… I had to stop the angel!"  Shinji released her and backed away.

"YOU IDIOT!!!" 

"Asuka! I brought it back… It's in Unit 01's cage!"

"Oooh…" Asuka fumed, "That's not why you're an idiot – but, you better pray that it still works, Third, because if I have to get another Eva… you'll regret it!"

Shinji cowered, but as he looked back up into her face, he noticed that it wasn't real anger reflected there.  A small smile crossed his face, 'That's the Asuka I love.'

"Now.  Who told you to stop hugging me?  It's cold in here." Asuka pouted. 

Shinji gulped, "But Asuka…"

"No 'butts'. Hug now!"  Asuka demanded, noticing the fear still plastered on Shinji's face.

"How about a blanket?  Or should I order a room with a double bed?"  Doctor Ritsuko Akagi asked from the lip of the entry plug. Then she smirked, "And a nice COLD shower?" 

Asuka's skin flushed deep red, even deeper than before. 

Both Shinji and Asuka faced the Doctor.   Shinji began to move to exit the plug.   Asuka stayed still.  

"Asuka, What's wrong?" Shinji asked.  

"I… I don't want them to see me like this." 

"There's nobody here but me, you, and Shinji-kun." Akagi confirmed.  

"Oh." Asuka said.  "Where's Rei?" 

"Keeping the curious at bay.  She doesn't really have to do much.   Rei's so… Rei – it scares everyone away from her."  Akagi admitted.  

Shinji chuckled a little.   "I don't think Rei's that bad." 

"You'd be the only one other than your father who thinks that, Shinji-kun." Ritsuko informed the young pilot.  

Asuka tentatively looked over the lip of the Entry Plug to confirm that the bay was, indeed, empty.  

Ritsuko took one last look at Asuka, taking in the changes fully, before looking back at Shinji.   "Your… your father would like to see you tonight at seventeen hundred hours.  He's ordered Rei to be there as well." 

"Why?" 

"For once, I don't have the foggiest clue." Akagi admitted.   "It's probably about the next Angel, I'd imagine." 

"We'll beat it.  One way or another." Shinji said confidently, an echo of the confidence he showed in the battle – if it could be called that - with Armisael. 

Ritsuko, looking at the changed Second Children and then thinking about the tears she saw in Rei's eyes when she encountered her by the plug, had a more sullen reflection, "I hope so, Shinji-kun.  I hope so." 

--

Author's Notes:

Ok, a little twisted, a bit different… Ok, a lot different.   But I haven't really changed the characters as they were at this point.   Rei's a little emotional, of course… considering she's still Rei II. 

I can sense the first complaint you're going to have – "YOU TURNED ASUKA INTO REI!!!"  Nope.   Think again.  She'll be red-haired and blue eyed again in the next chapter – be it through dye and contact lenses.  Her genetics were altered partially by Armisael.  She has NONE of Ayanami's genetics.  The Blue hair and Red eyes are a coincidence.  She is still Asuka Langley Sohryu.  Of course, Asuka has picked up a few things from her encounter with that angel –more than a natural blue hair color.   But I'll leave that as a surprise for the next chapter.  I think what made writing this so difficult was the fact that it was after the 15th angel incident.   I'm trying to keep Asuka in character here, but her character has experienced so much trauma at this point, she's an emotional wreck.   And now she has to deal with changes brought on by the 16th as well.    But Shinji is there to help her, and that will make a big difference, I promise. 

Second, by having Armisael attack Asuka –Rei II is still alive.  But what consequences does this have? Obviously Rei II is disturbed by something at the end of the story, disturbed enough to have tears in her eyes.  (Another surprise for the next chapter.)   

Well, its up to you.   Should I continue this hastily thought up and odd fic?  Or should I pitch it in the trash and try working on one of my other more "normal" Asuka stories.   Please remember, the only way I know what to do is if you review.   

Thanks,

PitViper.