I put off updating this fic until Eva 3.0 came out partially because I wanted to include Mari, and while 2.0 established that something really weird was going on with her, it didn't give a lot of clues as to what.

Now 3.0 is out, and I still don't know what the heck is up with Mari. The only thing I'm sure of is that I really, really, really want her in this fic.

So it looks like we'll be stuck waiting until 4.0 comes out and hopefully explains what she is and how she knows/why she says certain things. I thought I should post something, though, since I did say I'd get more done after 3.0 came out.

What is really interesting in 3.0 is that there's now confirmation of the fan theory that Rebuild was actually a sequel to the anime. Apparently it is, and this isn't even the second time the events have occurred: Kaworu's Groundhog Day Looping, and according to the voice actor he was told to do a Kaworu who had seen several iterations of these events. So the manga could even be in continuity – since everything's new to Kaworu in the manga, either it's the first timeline or he hasn't started remembering previous timelines yet.

Trying to find an outcome where humanity survives with the planet intact enough for long-term survival, unlike the anime, where people can come back but the biosphere is toast?

And 3.0 actually remembers that these are terraformers here! I am most pleased.

I like Sohryu for Asuka's last name because of the blue dragon of the east thing.

Dragon just seems like perfect imagery for Asuka, although something fire-breathing would be good.

Frowning, Shinji reached into his cello. His frown deepened as he pulled his hand back and held what he'd found up to his face. He wanted to ask "How?!" but what he ended up saying was the answer to his own question. "Ghost."

The white-collared kitten twisted around in his grip to smugly lick at his thumb.

Kaworu was already reaching out, so Shinji deposited the kitten into his hands so Shinji could inspect the inside of his cello for scratches and Kaworu could be the one to explain to it about instruments, the fragility and unsuitability for stowing away thereof.

"You were told that there would be no cake," Rei was reminding one of her own once Shinji was satisfied that his instrument was undamaged.

"Is it only these two?" Shinji asked, sitting down on one of the four folding chairs Misato had brought in her car when she dropped them off, before leaving to go do karaoke (Shinji shuddered at the thought) with Kaji and Ritsuko. They were hoping to get Ritsuko drunk enough that they could sound her out about Gendo's plans and her own loyalties.

"She is here because Ghost is here," Rei explained. "He let her have some of his cake," the one Rei bought to celebrate the one-month anniversary of the clones being removed from the LCL, being freed from that artificial womb.

Shinji felt Asuka reflexively give the kitten a mental tug when it reached out: hearing the word cake, the little thing had begun to mentally echo the word, which would have been fine if she hadn't been broadcasting in public mode instead of just on one of the family channels.

Since everyone other than them had their shields up, none of them would have heard the kitten, but just to be on the safe side… The other angels would be able to hear them, too.

Then there was the fact that if people's shields were down a little, a child's request for something would act on their minds a lot more powerfully than a normal subliminal message. This was how parents were supposed to know if a child crying meant that they were cold, wet, hungry, tired, in need of more mental stimulation for brain development or what so they could do the right thing and get the kid to shut up.

At first Shinji was afraid that the kittens would walk all over him and Asuka the way they were Rei and Kaworu, but even though Shinji had actual training, Asuka was almost as good at dealing with them as he was, or at least dealing with them mentally.

It was… kind of sad how much of this was reflex. When humanity hadn't been able to do this for thousands of years, would the instincts and reflexes still be intact unless they were just that vital, went just that deep?

Maybe Asuka was a little strict with them, but she knew that the other angels were out there, and if even Shinji could hear that she was telling the kitten to shut up not just to shut up, or because Mommy didn't want to hear it, but that there were predators out there and Mommy wanted to keep the little thing safe?

Irritated, and prickly, but she still loved the brainless balls of fluff even if their brainlessness annoyed her, but most of that anger was directed at potential enemies. The way her eyes were scanning the crowd of commuters now just in case any of them had heard anything made something tighten in Shinji's chest.

Feeling someone watching him, he turned to see Kaworu looking at him sympathetically. Just a wisp on the edge of Kaworu's mind, of 'that's what you should have had.' That protectiveness, a mother and father who were willing to fight for him instead of ones that wanted to sacrifice him.

When Asuka put the kitten down now, on Kaworu's lap instead of Rei's so the two of them could snuggle together (because cake was love), Shinji had to look away before Asuka's blue eyes turned to him and asked him what he thought he was looking at.

He didn't turn his head fast enough: "Are you blushing?" she demanded, and now he had to duck his head frantically sending off don't look/leave me alone it's embarrassing signals until he felt her roll her eyes and radiate Stupid Shinji.

"I think I'm in love," he said to himself, in the privacy of his own head. Asuka… She really was like a mother, wasn't she? A good one?

And he realized this now? When they were going to perform in public, they'd gotten the license and everything? Well, it was probably better than figuring it out while he was trying to fight angels, but still. It was taking all of his focus to keep this from leaking, and the very fact that he'd locked his emotions down tight was making Kaworu and Rei glance at him to confirm that he wasn't concealing an injury or something.

Kaworu shushing Rei was semi-private, but Shinji didn't need to read the thought to tell that Kaworu must be telling her that this was one of the planetary human things, and not to bother her brother when he was trying to maintain control.

At least Rei hadn't figured it out yet. Shinji knew he had to keep her from finding out at all costs, because although Kaworu had just made it clear that he would be happy if Shinji found some nice people and Asuka was a candidate, Rei was a little more hands-on and would step-up her efforts to ensure that Asuka was willing to make Rei some little Shinjis.

Shinji wasn't actually party to those negotiations, thanks to sticking his fingers in his ears and making it clear that he was not listening, but he'd caught Asuka murmuring to herself in the bathroom, trying out the phrase, "Empress Sohryu of Mars," with a contemplative air that seemed as though she thought the prospect of having her own planet had a nice ring to it.

Even if the planet came with a Shinji.

It wasn't like Shinji would mind taking Asuka's last name. He hated the name Ikari, being connected to his father and his insane mother. Although the fact that Gendo Rokubungi had taken his wife's last name wasn't really a vote in its favor.

Unlike the rest of them, Kaworu didn't need to check over his instrument.

That was because he was cheating by encroaching on it, not that even Asuka was going to complain about doing that to a very good violin. Not when this was the violin Kaworu had learned on, a violin that had been shipped up to the moonbase, spent years there and now shipped back down to earth to join Kaworu, and shipping could be rough enough on instruments without g-forces and years of lower gravity, air pressure and inconstant atmosphere involved.

Even though Shinji hadn't heard of the maker, judging from Asuka's reaction SEELE hadn't spared any expense, and doing something like that to a good instrument, an antique?

Kaworu had better take good care of it.

That left Kaworu to attend to the kittens while the rest of them got ready to play. Shinji was lucky that focusing on radiating 'I'm busy' vibes was natural enough under the circumstances that pretty soon Rei was displaying the same emotion, focused on her instrument and sheet music.

Of the four of them, she was the least practiced: she'd only started playing when she was sent to school. They had a music club, and Gendo had told her to sign up for it because Yui was a musician.

Shinji's cello had belonged to her: he supposed that Rei was lucky that Gendo wasn't really interested in music and thought the viola was close enough. Not that Rei had really chosen the viola, not as such: they'd wanted a viola player and Rei had gone along with that.

Just like Kaworu with Misato and the kittens, sometimes Shinji felt a little weird about how close Rei was to Kaworu. She was Shinji's little sister, after all: was she leaning on Kaworu for advice instead of him because Shinji was somehow lacking? Still, they were both angels, so he guessed it made sense. Not just that she saw Kaworu as a role model, but Rei had trouble understanding a lot of the same things Kaworu had trouble understanding, so she'd ask him to try to explain what he'd figured out, about how to be an angel in a world of planetary human things, a world where people didn't make accommodations for angels because they didn't know they existed.

Well, they did know about the other angels. Giant monstrosities were a little hard to miss. But the only ones who knew that angels were people weren't talking, and it was unfair enough that Shinji had to take a breath and not make a fist, not when he might damage his bow.

Kaworu was family, and it made sense that Rei would connect with the person who was like her, just like Kaworu's clones followed around the adult that was like them, since they thought like planetary humans more than angels.

It made Shinji wonder: would he be so close to Kaworu if there'd been someone else, anyone else? His aunt and uncle were human, sure, and family, but they weren't close, not in the same way.

It was Kaworu that Rei had an open data channel with, probably asking about instruments and if he would correct her if she did anything wrong. Kaworu didn't play the viola, but he could and would access the internet and do research if Shinji wanted help with something, so…

Maybe part of it was that it was weird to be around people with open minds that weren't Kaworu. Everyone else around them was still curled up tight, faceless masses, but in addition to Kaworu's soft silver there was a soft blue now, and Asuka's flashes of red. She wasn't unshielded, but then Shinji wasn't either. Planetary humans had shields for good reasons and it would be stupid not to use them, but he could feel her prowling around the bars, not caged in by fear like everyone else, but wary, and ready.

That was it. Not the bars of a cage, but teeth.

The only other person whose emotions he'd felt before was Kaworu, and Kaworu was family, so maybe that was part of why ever since they'd told Asuka…

He clamped down on those thoughts, because the others were almost ready. Once they were actually performing they'd be trying to read each other, not just body language and how they played but thoughts too, in order to perform as a group despite not having practiced as a group before.

Tabris had helped teach Shinji, and Asuka had practiced a few times since moving in with them, but this was their first time playing all together. If it weren't for the fact they could read each other, Shinji would have been mortified at the thought of trying this for the first time in public, but pressure just made it better practice, right?

Needing to coordinate themselves without being obvious about it… He and Tabris had years of practice, but soon the next angel would come, and who knew which three evas would be sent out when it did. They had to be ready to fight together.

He found himself glancing at Asuka, who wore the same white dress she'd worn to the beach. She'd insisted that the others dress up a little too, and taken Rei out to pick up the blue thing she was wearing now. It looked really cute on her, although Shinji was trying not to think about that because this was his sister.

A sharp, impatient tug, Asuka asking without words what he thought he was looking at, and when he turned back to her and she didn't tug at him again he realized that she wasn't wondering why he'd looked at her, she was wondering why he was staring into space past Ayanami.

Why he'd looked away from Asuka.

"I think she may actually like me" he realized, and it was kind of hard not to grin like a fool.

He was used to warm grey, and it was nice to feel cool blue washing around the edge of his mind, just making sure that he was safe and letting him know that she was safe because family worried about other people and didn't want to worry those other people, but Kaworu had adopted Shinji when he was little and was kind of stuck with him now. While Rei was stuck with Shinji because they were family.

Asuka wasn't family, but she might she might be willing to be, well, with Shinji, and…

When Gendo Ikari told his son, "Good job," Shinji hadn't felt any sense of accomplishment. No, he'd just stared, wondering why the man was saying something like that. It disgusted him, because it was blindingly obvious that his father didn't care about his feelings, so he was only saying that to try to make Shinji feel happy that he'd impressed his father, make him want to do it again? Not just a cold-blooded bastard but an arrogant one, just assuming that Shinji would give a damn about what Gendo Ikari thought after the bastard abandoned him? Why should Shinji give a damn about someone who didn't give a damn about Shinji?

Thinking that Asuka liked him, though? That Asuka thought he was worth liking?

It felt like he'd won some kind of award. Like he was ten feet tall.

It made him want more of that feeling.

Well, he'd better start by not screwing up in front of all the people they wanted to stop and listen, he knew, and nodded when Rei apologized for making them wait for her to finish getting ready and asked if they were ready to begin.

In Petit Eva/Evangelion at School, one of the scenes has the littlest Rei (there are three Ayanami sisters) trying to buy cake. She does not have quite enough, but Kaworu comes to the shop, still in his ghost costume, and gives the clerk some change so she can have the cake.

Thus acquiring a stalker. Ah, puppy love.