Rather than being a chaptered fic, this will be a set of different for want of a nail, or rather the right words or realization at the right time AUs diverging from the manga. I've tried to make them comprehensible to people who haven't read volumes 9-11, but since the character dynamic is so different and there are a lot of important conversations that's kind of tough, sorry.

Manga!Kaworu is a huge contrast to the anime version.

Anime!Kaworu thinks Shinji is admirable. The manga version thinks Shinji's a selfish bastard, and then he's mind-whammed due to being connected via Armisael to Rei as she died into loving someone who definitely doesn't even want to be his friend, and then there's the ancient conspiracy that had him conceived and intends to control him cradle to grave, and the only freedom from them is in the grave.

It ends up much more of a tragedy since it's not just a matter of Shinji losing the only person who is able to be genuinely nice to and supportive of him due to not being a hedgehog, but like the manga author says, one ends up wishing that Shinji would understand Kaworu's feelings, whether one is a slash fan or a Shinji/Rei fan. There's a reprise of an earlier conversation where Kaworu and Rei (III) have switched roles that highlights that now Kaworu is the one who has changed and come to care for someone, while Rei is the outsider who doesn't care about Shinji and the others, not remembering any better than to be devoted to Gendo.

"You're the one who told me that. Don't you remember?" the Fifth Child asked her, still holding the wrist he'd grabbed to get her attention and make her talk to him instead of ignoring him as they passed in the halls the way she had Shinji.

She didn't remember, they both knew that.

"Do you want to?" he asked now, and Rei looked at him, startled by the offer. "Don't mistake me, I'm not doing this for your benefit," Kaworu said, not smiling at all. "In fact, I think I hate you. More than Shinji hates me."

Standing by the shore, torn between just not caring anymore and the frustration that Kaworu's weirdness always managed to drag out of him (usually by alarming him), Shinji demanded (again), "Why are you being so weird?"

"Because I'm about to die, you selfish bastard!" Kaworu said, grabbing Shinji's shirt.

"What… You mean, you want me to care about you, to be your friend, when I've lost so many other people, because I'll lose you?" Shinji's eyes widened, because even if Kaworu had been heartless about Rei's death, and he'd killed the kitten (rather than let it starve to death alone), he hadn't thought he was that cruel. Just… weird. Worryingly insane, but not actively trying to hurt anyone, if only because he didn't see any reason to do that.

"I told you that the First Child's thoughts flowed into me, didn't I? That was why she loved you, because you didn't see her as expendable. You cared whether or not she lived or died." Her, Rei, not Kaworu. "I'm not just like her, but that's what caused the difference between us. She met you, she had someone who cared whether she lived or died." That was what Rei told him herself, and Kaworu now understood her words. "To the old men, I've always been expendable, and…" Kaworu couldn't bring himself to tell Shinji the rest.

"You mean, you're like Rei?" Shinji asked, remembering the room full of clones. How Ritsuko killed them all, just like that. How Rei must have thought she was expendable because she'd been replaced before.

So that was why Kaworu was so weird, the way Rei had been so weird at first. If he'd been raised by someone else to fight angels, or to be made into a dummy plug, the way Shinji's father used Rei?

"I said that, didn't I? You hate me that much, just leaving me when you heard she was back… You don't care at all about my feelings. You don't even care about the First Child's feelings when they're in me," Kaworu accused him, and Shinji could see the pain and desperation behind that anger now.

"Because you're another guy," Shinji said, frustrated, the way he had when Kaworu kissed him, supposedly because it was less trouble to stop Shinji hyperventilating that way than to get a bag, although then he'd talked about Rei's feelings and… So weird. Didn't Kaworu even realize that made a difference? …Would he? When Rei had also been so ignorant? And not understanding that, would he think the only reason Shinji refused to care if he lived or died was that it was Kaworu?

But Shinji didn't want to care. Not when Touji was dead, he'd seen Rei die and now she wasn't the Rei he'd known, Kensuke left… He didn't want to become Kaworu's friend because he didn't want to lose another friend, especially not when Kaworu admitted he was about to die.

"What does that have to do with it?" Kaworu demanded, frustrated. "If guys didn't like guys, then why did the First Child's feelings do this to me? Why did I have to realize this now?" The other teenager asked, and Shinji realized Kaworu's red eyes were wet. "I didn't know it was possible for someone to care if something like me lived or died, I thought I was the only one who gave a damn about the fact I'm going to die: why did I have to find out otherwise when it's almost too late to find anyone that will even remember me? And why did she have to make me care about being loved back by someone like you? When you show her kindness like that, but you just leave me as soon as she's back even after I let you stay even though you admitted that the only reason you wanted to stay was that you hated me!"

"That isn't true," Shinji objected. He'd wanted to stay with Kaworu because he couldn't stand the thought of being comforted or sharing grief over Rei, like with Misato. Kaworu didn't care, or so he'd thought, so he could stay there without being reminded of Rei. Without having to talk about her death, when that would make it real. "I don't hate you, Kaworu. I just don't want any more friends, I already said that! I don't want to lose any more people."

"So if you hadn't lost so many people, would you care for me now?" Shinji hadn't cared before, but as Kaworu said when he confronted Shinji, what mattered to Kaworu was now. Because now was when he realized he wanted someone to care, now was when he had so little time left to live.

Wait. "What if you had her back?" Kaworu asked, both hands fisted in Shinji's shirt now. "If I gave you her back, would you stop hating me?"

"What? That's not… Is that possible?" Shinji didn't care enough to correct Kaworu again, that Shinji didn't hate him (he was just trying to be indifferent). Not compared to Rei, and did that prove Kaworu right? Or was it that Kaworu didn't understand this, and indifference was bad enough? Gendo had abandoned him out of indifference: Shinji almost wished his father had cared enough to hate him. That might have been better.

"I told you, didn't I? That her feelings flowed into me when the angel connected us. The way she felt each time you touched her. The promise the two of you made." And Shinji could see that just like Shinji himself, Kaworu wanted a promise like that. Wanted someone to protect, wanted someone to care enough to try to protect him. "The First Child isn't the one you knew, but she has the same soul. What if she regained her original feelings for you? What if I gave them back to her? Would you care about me then?" If only as the person who gave Shinji back his bond with the First Child.

"So you really do have Rei's feelings," Shinji said slowly, haltingly, trying to remember what Kaworu said after that kiss. Shinji had barely been paying attention, because he hadn't wanted to make the effort to understand Kaworu, wanted to keep thinking of him as weird and heartless even when he took Shinji to the infirmary when Shinji feinted in his arms after Rei's death. Even when he gave Shinji a place to stay because Shinji didn't want to go back to Misato's.

If Rei's feelings could make Kaworu act like that, then Rei really had cared for him, hadn't she? Kaworu had even asked if it was love, describing the same sensation Shinji felt now, thinking of Rei. Yearning and a painful tightness in his stomach, like being trapped by the force of it, the pressure of that longing making him almost ill, making him hurt like he was dying, like he'd die if he didn't get Rei back. If she no longer loved him back. If Rei loved him this much, enough to make the weird Kaworu who hadn't cared about Rei's death look so desperate, the same desperation Shinji had felt when he'd tried to save her from the angel, watched her blow herself up and die in front of him, then no one had ever loved Shinji like that.

"I said so, didn't I?" Kaworu looked even more hurt and frustrated. "You keep refusing to acknowledge these feelings: it's because they're in me now, isn't it. You don't care if I die, but you care about her. So? If she lives and loves you again, will you care? Will you remember me?" If Kaworu was the one to give him back Rei? Give him back the girl he loved, who loved him in return?

Lucky bitch. Selfish bastard. Kaworu wished he could hate them both, but the feelings that tightened around him now wouldn't let him hate Shinji. Even if it wasn't Kaworu's hand he'd taken, even if saying that it was because Kaworu was a guy when clearly that didn't matter implied that he would be willing to kiss, willing to be close if it was the First Child.

Damn her, and damn Armisael for inflicting this on him. Why now? Why when he was about to die? SEELE would surely give him the order soon, and if he refused the old men would have him hunted down. He'd known this was coming for his entire life, since coming in contact with Lilith would also end his existence as an individual. Either way he would die, and the old men hadn't cared, Shinji didn't care, no one did. Kaworu had accepted that, accepted that Lilim didn't care about each other so they weren't going to care about his life or death, but then! Shinji was willing to care about the death of a being like Kaworu… when it was the First Child.

"You can do that?" Shinji asked, and now he looked at Kaworu, even if it was just to see if he was telling the truth about the First Child. "Wasn't it the angel? It infected both your Evas." Rei and Kaworu, too. "So how can you fix her?"

"What do you care?" Kaworu asked, because they both knew Shinji didn't. "As long as you get her back, does it matter how I do it? You hate me anyway." And maybe that was a good thing, Kaworu realized, because it meant Shinji wouldn't hate him any more when he found out Kaworu was so weird because he was an angel, one of the things Shinji killed. "But your precious First Child is an angel. That's how her soul could transfer to another body."

"What? You're, you're lying!" Shinji said, grabbing Kaworu now, the way he had when Kaworu said it was stupid for Rei to blow herself up like that. "You take that back!" How dare he speak ill of the almost-dead, when the Rei Shinji knew wasn't there anymore? Even if that could change?

"It's the truth! I'm the one who got her feelings forced into me, aren't I?" Had Shinji already forgotten? "The First Child's soul is Lilith's, and your father wants to use her to cause Third Impact, even though that would kill her." Kill everyone, destroying their individual selves. "And she still loved you, so much it's making me ache like this!" Kaworu let go of Shinji with one hand to put it over his own heart, and Shinji finally noticed the flash of pain in crimson eyes. "But you don't care about me at all, do you?"

Finally put it together that if Kaworu's feelings were really Rei's, then he'd feel the way Rei felt if Shinji talked to her like this. If Shinji hated her. That barely gave Shinji an instant's pause, though, compared to "My father wants to use her for that?"

Kaworu grimaced, anger and pain, or rather anger caused by pain. "And of course you care when it's her, not when it's me. When she refuses, he'll just try to kill her and use the next one Lilith's soul inhabits, but you'd try to protectthe First Child, won't you? Not me." Never Kaworu. "Me you'd be happy to kill to stop Third Impact, wouldn't you? So you can try to be happy together with your angel. Selfish bastard. You didn't even realize how much it hurt her that you went and stood by the Second Child's bedside every day, so of course you don't care about my feelings." When Shinji didn't even care about Rei's enough to notice them, and still Rei had cared that much about him, and now Kaworu was cursed to. "I can try to give you back her, too, but if you want either of them, you have to promise that you'll remember me."

"You can… Asuka?" When she was also a shell of her former self, just like Rei? Also because of an angel? That made sense, though, when Asuka hadn't died and all her memories were in there, so…

"Well?" Kaworu demanded. "If I give you back the First Child, if I'm responsible for your chance at happiness, will you remember me?" the Fifth Child asked longingly, and Shinji was suddenly struck by the resemblance to not just Rei but Ritsuko. Ritsuko, who loved his father when Gendo would never return that emotion. He'd been happy enough to use it, though, the way Kaworu was offering to do this for Shinji because Kaworu loved him now. Loved him enough to give him Rei, the one Shinji loved instead, if that was the only thing he could do to… to what? Make Shinji notice him? Make Shinji care?

No, to make Shinji think of him when he was gone, the boy realized. If he owed Rei to Kaworu, then would he think of Kaworu, dead Kaworu, when he saw Rei? "I'll remember you," Shinji knew, and maybe he did hate Kaworu a little now, because he was so tired of mourning friends. That was why he'd tried not to care about Kaworu. Why did Kaworu have to care about him now? When Shinji had just used his hospitality, when Shinji had called him weird and not even cared enough to actually reject him? When he hadn't wanted to deal with Kaworu's feelings, wrapped up in his own pain?

Kaworu looked delighted, and now he looked more like himself, the weird and heartless one that didn't care about Rei's death, could view kissing as a way to get Shinji to stop hyperventilating that was less annoying than having to find a bag. "Prove it. Prove you want her back enough to give me what I want. Remember, she'll see my feelings and memories when she gets hers back. Do you want her to know that you'd reject her feelings so easily?"

"What do you want?" Shinji asked, annoyed because that was much easier.

"A kiss." When Shinji gaped, Kaworu seemed to take it as an invitation, but, "Not now, I have to report to the old men. I want you to take my hand like you took hers, and kiss me like I'm her. You can think of it as kissing her, because she'll remember it afterwards. I'll bring Rei to my room when I'm done dealing with the old men. You can be there, or I'll give her back her feelings and mine, so she can see that you don't care enough to be there for her. It's her fault I'm feeling this pain, so she can suffer what I'm feeling because of her." Rei could feel what it was like to know Shinji rejected her. "She should know what a selfish bastard you are, and she can feel what it's like to love you and have you hate me. If guys don't like guys, then isn't it even more impossible for something like you to love an angel?" Kaworu looked away when he asked that. "Whether I make her love you again or make her hate you the way you hate me, either way you'll remember me, so it's all the same, isn't it?" When Shinji would never care for Kaworu?

Kaworu shifted his grasp to her hand, but he never let go of her, almost pulling her towards his room. She didn't remember why she should defy her old man (Lucky bitch, to only have one of them), and he couldn't risk her going to Gendo when he hadn't seen if Shinji was even there yet.

His smile of delight was more than half smirk when he saw Shinji sitting on the bed.

"R-Ayanami?" Shinji asked, hopeful and nervous. The flat computer monitor was still where Shinji'd paused it in the random romance he'd been watching to take his mind off Rei's death, and the magazine Kaworu was reading when Shinji left after hearing that Rei was alive had gotten tossed on the floor. Shinji had spent a lot of time with nothing to do but let his eyes wander around Kaworu's room, trying not to think of things like whether or not this would work, what Kaworu might make him do or if Rei really was an angel.

"Ikari. I was told that you decided to pay for the Fifth Child to restore as much of my memory of my previous self as he could," Rei said, and Shinji's face fell a little.

Maybe it was the word 'pay' that did it. "Yes, but can he really do it?" the one human among them asked, and Kaworu knew Shinji didn't want to go through with it, at least the kiss part, but he wouldn't back out if it was Rei that needed him to do something.

"I believe so. The two of us are the same, after all… almost," Rei corrected herself, remembering the words Kaworu had told her were her own.

Kaworu smirked again, trying to feel triumph, and sat down on his bed next to Shinji. "The kiss, remembering me and a third thing, but I think you'll be happy to do the last part," he said, and wondered why saying that made him feel sadness. Shinji had to be angry with him after this, when Kaworu had decided to be as selfish as Shinji. Shinji hadn't hesitated to attack him with his bare hands before, so it wouldn't be a problem for Shinji to kill him, Kaworu thought. He didn't want SEELE to be the ones to bring him down.

Shinji gulped: would he really have to let Kaworu kiss him? Again? But it was for Rei, and she would remember it afterwards, so it was just like kissing Rei, he tried to tell himself. It wasn't like Asuka hadn't already stolen his first kiss. Kaworu sat there expectantly, and Shinji found himself thinking of Dr. Akagi once again, the woman his father had treated like he loved in order to make use of her. Did it make it better or worse that Kaworu knew Shinji would be pretending, had practically demanded that he pretend?

That was when he noticed that Kaworu didn't smell like boy, like Touji or Kensuke. What Shinji smelled now, sitting next to him, was much more like what he'd smelled in Rei's barren rooms. It wasn't that Kaworu smelled like a girl, either: he'd been close enough to Asuka and Misato to recognize the scent of a woman. Kaworu didn't smell like that.

Rei didn't either.

It was still much easier to ask "Kaworu, what are you?" than to admit that Kaworu had been telling the truth about Rei and this meant Kaworu was also an angel. Was Rei really an angel? Was his father really planning to use her to cause Third Impact? But why the resemblance to his mother, why… why all of this?

Kaworu didn't respond right away, a strange expression on his face. "It makes me wonder why you want to fall in love, when it's such a painful and disgusting feeling. I felt sick when you said that, like something was squeezing me to death. Then again, why do I want something like you to fall in love with me? I don't hate you, even if you are a jerk." Kaworu's smile was barely a token one, obviously false. "That's right, I'm the Twelfth Angel. I don't want to merge with Lilith, but the old men ordered me to do it today. If I don't, they'll have me hunted down and killed." The angel looked down at his hands. "It doesn't make much difference to me whether I cause Third Impact or not. Either way I'll die, whether by having my individual existence obliterated or my body destroyed. I refuse to give them what they want, give them my death as well as my life."

Shinji found himself relaxing a little, because he hadn't wanted to kill Kaworu, kill a person. Like Rei.

"So, how does it feel to have something like me in love with you? Does it disgust you? Will it be fine when I'm gone and it's the First Child instead?" Kaworu frowned. "Why aren't you happy? You hate me, so you should be glad I'm hurting like this. Now kiss me and let me pretend you care about my feelings. Kiss me like I'm her."

Shinji glanced at Rei, then looked at Kaworu, blushing. With Rei right here?

Kaworu's red eyes were determined, all the more so for the vulnerability underneath. Yes, with her here, when Shinji had left Kaworu to go running off to see her the instant he heard Rei had survived before. He had to pay attention to Kaworu instead of Rei for a few minutes: was that really such a hard thing for him to do? "You really don't care at all about my feelings, do you," he said, and barely managed to hold back tears.

He really could hate the First Child: he'd first cried when Armisael connected him to her, he'd felt all this pain because of her. And Shinji, but hating Shinji? He couldn't, not when he wanted Shinji to be close to him so desperately, wanted to imagine Shinji caring and forget the reality so much.

Shinji looked at Rei again, who wondered why he was looking at her. Wasn't Shinji the one who had agreed to this?

Had he done it for her sake, she wondered? If she had loved him, did he love her? If he did, then she wanted to remember. She wanted to believe that Shinji loved her enough to sacrifice for her, so she nodded, ignoring the signs that he didn't really want to do this.

Gulping, Shinji nodded. "Alright, Kaworu," he said, and closed his eyes.

Kaworu scowled. "I wanted you to kiss… Nevermind." Beggers couldn't be choosers, he didn't have all the time in the world, and he would have to work for his dream, even if it was pathetic that all he could have was a fantasy like this, before the end. Still, it was more than he'd aspired to do with the life that wasn't his before.

He leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Shinji, and let Shinji's attempt to pull back end up with him lying on his back again, Kaworu's chest on top of his. Kaworu's own eyes closed, trying not to see the reality, trying to focus on these feelings. Still, he murmured, "You have to at least act like it's real. Do something with your hands."

Shinji almost jumped when he said that, and irritated Kaworu thought that Shinji didn't have any right to say that Kaworu was the weird one, really. Lilim were all weird: the fact they thought their insanity was normal didn't make them any less insane. Still, he didn't care what made Shinji react that way when at least he carefully wrapped his arms around Kaworu, nervous but not wanting to offend. "I'm not helping her until I get a real kiss," Kaworu reminded him, brushing his lips briefly against Shinji's and sighing when he heard the muffled eep.

"You say that, but guys don't…" It wasn't that easy for Shinji to make out with another guy!

"That is obviously untrue. What is true is that normally angels don't do things like this, but SEELE used human DNA to make me and obviously NERV did the same with the First Child. I'm the one this is unnatural for," so Shinji should shut up, stop whining, and get this done: did he really think whining about a kiss was going to make someone under a death sentence feel sorry for him? "Your father has to know what I am: do you want to risk that he'll find out that the First Child is here, with the agent SEELE sent, and haul her away before she can remember you? Oh, and if I'm not heading for Terminal Dogma by noon, SEELE will start trying to kill me, but obviously you don't care about that," he said, and hated the pain that ran through him when he said those words, admitted that truth. "I wish you didn't hate me," he said, with a gentler voice, and licked at Shinji's lips, thinking of the kitten's rough tongue and how he couldn't have taken care of it, the poor abandoned thing, not when he barely had any time to live at all. He would have been dead before he figured out how to nurse it back to health, and long before it was old enough to survive on its own. Not to mention that they would have experimented on it, wondering if he'd done something to it, because for an angel to go out of its way for one of Lilith's creatures?

All of his power, and there was only one thing he could accomplish: the thing he refused to do for his masters. His life really was meaningless, and they would remember him only as a disappointment. Shinji, Misato and the others at NERV who didn't know the truth would have remembered him only as a traitor, never bothering to find out if there was more to it than that. Who would care if he died when he was an angel, enemy of humanity?

Death, death was his only escape, and he had envied that kitten on some level, wished someone would do that for him, except there were so many interesting things in this world.

He didn't want to die, but he couldn't survive (not on his own), and then at least it would be over.

Without him noticing it Kaworu's presses of lips against Shinji's cheek and other touches, trying to get Shinji to respond instead of lying there so clearly unwilling became less signs of impatience and more little pleas. For Shinji to pay attention to him, for someone to respond, to care, to ease this loneliness.

Shinji's pride rebelled at doing this for a price, even if he was almost certain Kaworu didn't know what a whore was and would hate Shinji thinking he was being treated like one when this clearly meant something real to Kaworu, but he could respond to that need, the way he'd recognized a kindred spirit in Rei. So alone, all of them. So sad. Even Kaworu, the one Shinji went to in order to escape sadness, believing Kaworu didn't feel any.

He'd been blind to someone else's feelings yet again.

So he could at least turn the arms lying on top of Kaworu's back into a real hug, could at least open his mouth a little instead of trying to wall Kaworu out with his remembered what Kaworu asked after the other kiss: "What's it like? To fall in love with someone? Do you want to touch the person? Kiss them? Do you feel like you don't want to lose them?"

To Kaworu, "It felt like it was slowly constricting my chest. Like I couldn't breathe." Shinji had felt Kaworu's emotion during the kiss before, the one that had stunned him out of hyperventilating after Kaworu'd woken him out of another nightmare of Rei's death.

It was easier to admit it was there when he could think of it as Rei's feelings. He wanted to see it there when he thought of it that way, as proof that the girl he liked loved him back, and would love him again as soon as she remembered. Kaworu hadn't asked for this, hadn't even seemed to like Shinji that much before. Although the same could be said of Asuka, and she'd kissed him too.

It wasn't hard to get Kaworu to let him sit up, as long as Shinji kept holding him instead of pushing him away in shock like after the first kiss, where he'd wondered what the hell the weirdo thought he was doing. Kaworu was incomprehensible, and if you didn't understand people you couldn't tell what they'd take it into their heads to do. When Kaworu was already willing to kill defenseless animals? It said something about how little Shinji cared about his life that he'd been willing to sleep over at the maniac's. Still, Kaworu had been the one to break the kiss and start asking Shinji about feelings, trying to understand what was happening to him, Shinji saw in retrospect as he felt earnest lips on his and tried not to respond to the sheer longing there.

Except he knew this feeling. He recognized it. He didn't know about loving guys or angels but he knew what it was like to be unwanted and alone. He'd thought he was going to die when Gendo abandoned him. How could a kid look after himself? He thought he'd starve like that kitten, alone. Shinji had been taken in by someone, but he'd refused to take in that kitten, and Kaworu didn't have anyone who would want to take him in, not when he was an angel.

Shinji wanted to save Rei, though, and he hoped Rei knew that. That she felt that way, and when Kaworu, who didn't have anyone who save him, got Rei's feelings? It was hard to think of Kaworu as an angel when he was so, so fumbling.

So human. Like Misato, trying to find a connection to other people in doing this, and that was when Shinji pressed his cheek against Kaworu's, against that of someone who never had a mother, just pulled him close and felt him shake.

Felt the tears finally break loose, and a quiet sob as Kaworu stilled, head on Shinji's shoulder, no longer trying to kiss him. Just holding on to him desperately, desperate to be held. To cling to this belief that someone wanted him to live, that someone was willing to shelter him from the world. That someone was willing to touch him, when he was an angel and Shinji remembered what happened when Armisael touched Rei's and Kaworu's Evas, sent extensions of itself with Rei's face to envelop him. He knew how dangerous angels were, so Kaworu must think it meant something, that Shinji was doing this.

Rei found herself thinking of the broken glasses in her room, how she'd cried when she found them and didn't know why. Weren't tears supposed to mean sadness? So why did she find herself envying Kaworu the feeling that had him in its grip?

Shinji knew enough to know that he'd ruin this if he spoke up now, reminded Kaworu of Rei and their deal. He didn't want to ruin it, and not just because this could get him out of having to kiss anymore. He didn't want Kaworu to think Shinji hated him, not when Kaworu was convinced he was about to die. Dying alone and rejected: that would be so sad, as weird as it was to think of the detached and seemingly heartless because of it under the amusement Kaworu being sad. Had he been hiding it, the way Asuka always acted so nice in front of adults?

Or had he been trying to hide it from himself, so he didn't have to feel the sadness?

Shinji looked up at Rei, embarrassed a bit because even though this was just a hug it was still a hug, and that also was something guys weren't really supposed to do. Kaworu still smelled of rain and stormclouds, and Shinji realized again that it wasn't because Kaworu had just had a bath, it was because he really didn't start smelling of sweat and everything else the way humans did. On the one hand that was kind of a relief, since he could tell himself Kaworu wasn't really another guy, but was that part of what had creeped him out about Kaworu from the beginning? Something in the back of his head had noticed that something wasn't right, even though if Shinji had associated any scent with angels it would have been LCL? So why hadn't Rei bothered him? Because she'd seemed familiar on another level?

It really did feel like holding Rei, but Shinji didn't want to think of how Rei was like his mother when he could finally believe that she liked him, she loved him so much if just an echo of her feelings could reduce Kaworu to this. No, most of this was Kaworu's own feelings, but not feelings for Shinji, which was a relief.

Shinji somehow felt strong, being able to do this for someone. Having someone believe that he could protect them? Being able to do for someone else what Gendo, what someone should have done for Shinji? Shinji knew how much he wanted someone to do this for him, so he knew how much this had to mean to Kaworu. Even if he couldn't really save him or do anything, at least he could let him die happy?

Except, even though Shinji hadn't wanted to feel anything for him at all, maybe he had started caring at some point, just because Kaworu was there. He'd let Shinji crash at his place when he didn't have to do that, and maybe it wasn't all because of Rei's influence?

He didn't have to do much, just move a little sometimes, so Kaworu knew he was paying attention. That someone was listening to his cries, that his pain and what happened to him mattered to someone. Even though Shinji hadn't wanted to feel anyone else's pain, being able to do this for someone? Shinji knew he would do anything for Rei because she cared for him.

Maybe it was the part of him that was Gendo's son that was thinking of how grateful Shinji would be for this in Kaworu's place. How if Shinji managed not to ruin this, Kaworu would do anything for him. Even die for him, although that might not be a very big deal to Kaworu since he thought he was doomed anyway. So he might not feel it was enough.

(And if Rei would remember Kaworu's feelings, the way Kaworu now felt Rei's?)

Shinji felt guilty for thinking that way, but… It was still a relief when Kaworu finally stilled, not asleep but satisfied, for now, just savoring the feeling of being held. A few slow breaths more of that, while Shinji noticed that Kaworu's heartbeat was also slower than it should be, and the angel said "Thank you, Shinji," and nuzzled at his cheek. "I promised." So he wanted to take care of Rei before he had to go, instead of leaving it until the last minute and taking up Shinji's attention until then. "I hope she'll make you happy." Kaworu pulled away and wiped his eyes on his arm when Shinji let him go, no longer half on Shinji's lap, and reached up for Rei to join him once he was seated cross-legged on the bed. "Let me do most of this: I received training in how much of a field I could generate without setting off detection equipment."

"Alright," she said, and sat facing him, her cheeks a little pink after seeing Shinji hold someone like that. She hadn't missed all the implications that Shinji was hers, or the second Rei's at least. She'd felt what she thought might be jealousy, but if Kaworu was going to die, then Shinji would be hers soon enough.

Kaworu cupped her face in his hands and she felt a sensation that was familiar somehow even before she identified it as something encroaching into her brain. Yes, that was what had happened. The angel had done that to both of them, and…

Rei found herself on a plain inside her mind (again?), and had to blink before the figure kneeling before her was replace by Kaworu instead of someone that looked just like Rei in her plug suit. "Lonely… this pain is loneliness," she remembered. "The angel wanted to become one with me because it was lonely."

"If we became one, both of us would be dead, not together with anyone," Kaworu said dismissively. Complementation was such a stupid idea, and it galled him that his birth, his life and his death might all be ruled by old men stupid enough to believe in such a thing. What did it say about him, that they could rule his fate despite all his power? Not truly seeking instrumentality was an act of defiance he'd decided on long ago, but he knew that for all they praised him as a True Successor of the White Seed, they were making other plans he knew nothing about.

After saying that, though, he bit his lip. While he hated the idea of Third Impact, if he was going to die regardless, to become one with Rei meant becoming one with the person Shinji cared for? No, it was too risky when she held Lilith's soul already. "You had better make him happy," he said instead, plea only half-hidden under threat. "I'm doing this for his sake, and my own, not yours."

"I understand," Rei told him. She knew Gendo, after all. She understood all along that all of it was for Yui, not her, as much as she'd wanted to delude herself into thinking otherwise. "But the two of us are the same now, aren't we? The way we weren't when I told you we were different."

"What do you mean?"

"What made us different was the people we'd interacted with, the memories we'd shared," she said, not just repeating herself but quoting him quoting her, the way he had when he'd told her to come with him if she wanted to remember the important things she'd forgotten. "And now you've met Shinji." She closed her eyes now, remembering Armisael's words. "I don't know if he likes me most. He goes to visit Asuka every day, and I was so jealous." It was the other angel who pointed that out to her, the angel that thought that the only way to not be alone was to be one. "I hate her a little too, so I don't blame you." For hating her, envying her when she was the one with a chance to live and be with Shinji. At least Rei valued that chance, unlike Asuka who was cruel to Shinji, treated his feelings like nothing and didn't deserve them at all.

Rei unclenched her hands when she realized they'd turned into fists. Every new recollection sparked others, neurons aligning and firing in patterns destroyed with her second body. The feelings that were so strong they'd contaminated Tabris through Armisael: did Shinji and his contrast with Gendo and Yui really make up so much of who she was, she wondered, until she remembered the Akagis, how people were shaped by those who created them.

It wasn't just her memories those feelings were linked to anymore: she remembered how Tabris had kissed Shinji on what felt like a random inspiration, figuring that breathing the air in Kaworu's lungs would work as well to keep Shinji from hyperventilating until he fainted (again) as a paper bag, and spare Kaworu the trouble of finding one.

It was only when he did it, the human contact calling up all the ways Rei felt when Shinji took her hand, that he really became aware of deeply Rei had encroached on him, in her desire to protect Shinji, for someone (even if not him) to look after him once she was gone, for someone to remember that she had loved him. It should have only disgusted him, only given him the creeps, but buried in it was the hope of an end to loneliness. A hope that someone would care for Rei herself, a hope Kaworu had never really had before any more than Rei did until she met Shinji. She'd clung to Gendo's glasses even knowing that he'd really done it for Yui because even the illusion of being cared for was so very precious.

She hadn't liked Kaworu before at all. He was like her, and she hadn't wanted to be like him. She'd refused to be doomed to be someone's tool, not anymore, and she almost had to wonder if Gendo had suspected that, if that was why he'd hesitated to allow Shinji to be sent out. Of course Gendo cared far more for Shinji's Eva than for her.

Kaworu wasn't hesitating to show her his memories, not when SEELE would be coming for them after he was gone. Not when he wanted someone to remember him.

She felt him calm and begin to trust her, begin to see her as the vessel of his hopes. It was hard not to accept those hopes when all of them were for her, or rather for Shinji's happiness with her. Hoping that Shinji would think of him when he was with Rei, that someone would remember him, whether Shinji resented Kaworu's price or was grateful for his help. It didn't matter, as long as he was remembered.

It was a little sad that he had such a modest wish and thought it was almost asking too much of a world that never cared for him.

Still, he was right when he threatened Shinji with the fact that since Kaworu's feelings were Rei's, to reject him was to reject Rei. Rei knew she acted oddly: if that alone was reason for Shinji to start hating someone? What if she did something wrong that bothered him the way so many of Kaworu's actions had? What if fear of her drove Shinji away?

So… but she had recalled as much as she was going to without sleeping on this, and Kaworu was worried about the time. Worried that they would be discovered and something would happen to undo all his work, make SEELE kill Shinji so there would once again be no one to remember him not as the twelfth angel but as Kaworu. A person, if not a human being.

A person who didn't want this, didn't want to end the world and die with it, not just one more enemy defeated.

His avatar in her mind looked up, noticing her sympathy and looking a little surprised. She had sympathy for him? That was hard to believe, but he hadn't even known it was possible until he'd felt Rei's awareness that Shinji cared about her existence. "You'll remember me?"

"Of course I will. You gave me back who I am." She'd been grasping at what was left of herself, but would she have recovered her own motivations in time to stop Gendo from using her? Rei wasn't sure. "But we should leave this place before Shinji worries."

Kaworu nodded, disappearing from her mind. Rei opened her eyes and a few moments later he withdrew his hands from her head.

Caring about someone means not wanting them to die, Rei knew. "Why do you think you can't escape them? Can't you hide?"

"This body is made out of normal matter and is practically that of an ordinary human. My soul is an angel's, but I can't shapeshift," Kaworu explained. "A human body needs to eat, sleep: I couldn't evade their pursuit forever, and I don't want to be hunted down like a mere animal."

"If you can't use those powers, then how did you encroach upon me just now?" Rei asked, puzzled.

Kaworu blinked, looking at his hands in disbelief, then laughed, shocked. "You're right: I just did it by instinct, but…" He spread his hands wide, palms up, and white tendrils spiraled up out of his flesh. "Only mostly human," he said with wicked delight, already seeing the potential of this. "I must have picked this up from Armisael. My flesh is ordinary matter, but this isn't. This is shaped out of the light of my soul. As long as I take a larger shape, something this body made of ordinary matter can be concealed in?" He experimented, wrapping the tendrils around his hands, forming more of that matter into claws. "What, though? A tree would be appropriate."

Rei shook her head. "They scan this area daily in order to create a computer model of the potential battlefield. A new tree would be noticed, especially since we are aware that angels can conceal themselves in living things." Like Evas. "Do you truly need your human body?"

"I don't want to risk it," he told her.

"Why not?"

"Would you? Didn't you hear me tell Shinji that these feelings aren't natural for angels? That's why your feelings gave me the creeps." He shuddered at the memory of lukewarm stickness pouring over him, something squeezing at his chest, squeezing tears out of him. "It can feel good," he knew now, "but what if we're only able to feel this connection to another without instrumentality because of the chemicals in the Lilim brain? Do you want to feel the same loneliness you felt in Armisael when you have a choice? What if this disgusting body they made me in by doing that to my father is the only reason I'm not drawn to Adam like all my siblings? I don't want to give them instrumentality, so I'm not going to take that risk. I already decided that even if I could abandon the human form, I wouldn't. I'm myself, not just their angel." While he looked like a human, he could have some hope that someone (Shinji) would look at him and see a person, not a thing.

Even if Shinji had pulled further up the side of the bed, worried at the casual way Kaworu was toying with those tendrils: he'd already put together that they were what let him connect to Rei's mind, and after finding out the full extent of what Armisael did to both Rei and Kaworu by trying to absorb them?

He also didn't like the way Kaworu was eyeing him now. It wasn't the way Kaworu had looked before he kissed Shinji the first time (he'd mostly looked annoyed because Shinji was hyperventilating, so he might faint and Kaworu would have to haul him to medical again, in the middle of the night). It was more like the way he'd looked afterwards, delighted that the kiss had worked and he wasn't going to have to go to any extra trouble. At first, Shinji had been a little relieved that that was all it was, and might have rationalized it as being something like CPR, except that Kaworu was absolutely fucking weird, except then Kaworu started talking about the nature of love and Shinji had realized that oh crap, the craziest of the pilots seemed to have feelings for him, which would have been worrying because Kaworu, and who knew what he'd take it into his head to doeven if they weren't both guys.

This was Kaworu having what he thought was a brilliant idea, and when his thought processes were absolutely insane (and alien?) in the first place, that was a very scary expression. It was one that belonged more on Dr. Akagi's face, Shinji thought.

Shinji could definitely imagine Kaworu invading his head with those without even asking first, because that was the kind of thing Kaworu would do because it seemed like a good idea at the time, but Rei frowned and put her hand on his forearm. He pouted at her for a moment, but his hands returned to normal, or as normal as he and Rei got. "Trying to survive means there's a chance they'll find me and be the ones to kill me, and I don't want to let them or their agents decide the moment of my death the way they have my life."

Looking at Shinji, Kaworu said bitterly "Third Impact is the purpose I was created for, my duty to those old men who think themselves my masters. They've controlled my entire life: only in death will I finally be free, and only if my soul is allowed to leave this world instead of being absorbed into the whole the way they want." He shifted closer to Shinji. "That's why I want you to kill me," he said, voice soft as though he was speaking of something wonderful, something for lovers. "My death is the only thing that is mine: I want you to be the one to set me free. Like the cat."

"Are you certain of that?" Rei asked. Kaworu looked at her, puzzled by her even asking that question. "We are the same, you and I. Are you certain that they don't have other vessels waiting to capture your soul, to ensure you will continue to be of use to them? The brainwashing of the dummy plug clones would have prevented me from regaining so much independent thought this quickly, according to Dr. Akagi when I awoke and she identified which of the vat clones was my new vessel. Gendo Ikari intends to act after the Twelfth Angel dies, and I know that SEELE is aware he is defiant of them since they tried to have him hand me over to them. They will have to act quickly as well. I doubt you would return to yourself in time to be able to stop them. Triggering Third Impact requires the soul of a Seed as well as their body: they would not risk the loss of Adam's soul any more than Gendo Ikari is willing to lose Lilith's."

Kaworu's hand went to his mouth, and Shinji honestly thought the other pilot (the angel?) might throw up, even his body desperate to reject such a horrible truth, or start hyperventilating and faint the way Shinji had, such was the horror in his eyes. Such was the despair there at the thought that there was no freedom for him from those who intended to use him, not even in death.

Rei looked at him for a moment, then decided that yes, the right thing to do was pull him towards her, let him rest against her, and Shinji was once again struck by how much like a mother she was sometimes. She'd be a good one, he was certain. Better than his, when she'd let herself be absorbed by the Eva, leaving him behind for Gendo to abandon. No, Rei would never do that, never abandon anyone. She'd proven that by dying to save Shinji from getting pulled in by the angel too, so how could Shinji not do whatever it took to bring her back to herself in return?

With Kaworu's head tucked under Rei's chin it still took the lanky pilot time to relax, lean arms clinging to her as he visibly struggled to calm down, not to faint the way Shinji had after Rei's death as much as he might welcome the bliss of a temporary oblivion when SEELE even had the power to deny him a final one.

"So they, they," Kaworu swallowed and forced himself to go on once he'd almost gotten a hold of himself. "They can even deny me death?" He laughed bitterly, eyes wild, looking crazier than Shinji had ever seen him. "There really is no escape from them. I'll never be free of their control!" Damn, damn, damn!

"SEELE will pursue you, and Gendo Ikari would never let me go, not when I am the key to regaining Yui," Rei knew. "You are the last born of Adam, aren't you? No more angels are coming, so they shouldn't need Shinji to pilot. Now, though, he knows too much for his father to let him go." Especially since Rei would go with him. "You hold Adam's soul and I hold Lilith's: they can't start Third Impact without us."

"We can't hide from them." Kaworu thought the idea was ridiculous. "The old men have people everywhere, and all they need to do is tell the world the truth, that we're both angels and hold the keys to Third Impact, and every human on the planet will be looking for us. I can raise my AT field while I'm awake, but this body can only go so long without sleep." And when abandoning this human form meant running the risk of doing exactly what they wanted him to? No. Never.

Rei slapped him, more enraged than when she'd slapped Shinji for saying he didn't trust Gendo, for voicing thoughts Rei was trying her best not to think. "You're not even going to try?" she said to his shocked face, hand reaching up to touch the mark left by her hand. "Didn't you want to defy them? To have something that was your own? If you destroy those clones, then you could die as yourself."

"If I can, but…" Kaworu's shock finally turned into that expression that should be fanged, because what did he have to lose? Absolutely nothing, not even the hope of death and freedom. They'd ordained his birth, kept him in tubes and labs, controlled his entire life: even if it was true that fighting them was ultimately futile, there were too many humans and SEELE could hide themselves, even killing a few of them would be better than nothing. At least their own deaths would force at least the ones he killed to recognize that they didn't control him. "I have my communicator, and I was trained in how to infiltrate and control electronics." In order to bypass the locks, safety features and self-destruct of Terminal Dogma. "I could…"

"We can. Gendo Ikari must know I began to turn against him because Shinji divided my loyalties: he saw me die to protect Shinji." Not Unit 01, but his unwanted son. "I need to escape too, and I won't let… We won't let them use Shinji. Not to get to me. To us." He shared her feelings, right? He wanted to protect Shinji too? "I remember the promise we made," she told Shinji. "To both go on living. When you let me hold your hand that fifth time, I didn't want to let go." Even though it had bothered her, made her feel queasy and uncomfortable the first few times, just like Kaworu, the angel in her not knowing what to do with this feeling.

Love confused even humans.

"You want to run away together?" Shinji asked her, hesitantly reaching out with his own hand again, as though he was afraid she wouldn't want to take it even after everything she'd said, even after everything he'd seen. "Rei… the first time I saw you, I wanted to protect you." He'd piloted the Eva to save her. Now, when Rei returned those feelings? "I don't want to watch you die again. I'll do whatever it takes," he said, and as soon as he did he could almost hear Kaworu's voice echoing, 'for her."

Yes, for her, because Rei was special to him, but Shinji knew what rejection felt like, and hadn't Kaworu kept his promise? So, "You too, Kaworu. You saved her when I couldn't." He'd felt so helpless, watching her follow his father around everywhere, looking at him only with annoyed disinterest. "So…"

"For her sake," Kaworu nodded, smiling wryly because he'd take what he could get. "So, do either of you have any idea how to go about the first step? They have men watching all of us, of course. Both NERV and SEELE. I could break past them," humans were so fragile in the face of angelic attack, and it would be cathartic to smash SEELE's servants, "But I don't know how to sneak. We'll need supplies if we don't want to give away where we are by stealing food." He'd always been in someone's keeping: surviving on his own in this complex human world he didn't know how to navigate had seemed impossible. "They'll be sending Evas after us too. I'm sure they'd want to start with Unit 02, so they don't have to reveal anything else."

"Asuka?" Shinji asked, startled. "But she's…" She wasn't up to piloting at all, even if she'd gone berserk and tried to strangle him that time. Then again, wasn't Unit 01 powerful when it was berserk? Even though she was just lying there, almost comatose the rest of the time, it took orderlies to get her off him and sedate her. "My father would still put her in her Eva and send her to kill me. And she hates Rei." As for Kaworu, who had piloted her Eva? "Will running away even work?" he asked, as much as he wanted to run away with Rei, to leave this place behind forever.

"Over the long term, no," Kaworu said, rolling over to lie on his back and look up at the ceiling thoughtfully. "They'll find us eventually: they'll definitely be determined enough. I've thought about this a lot," he said, glancing at Rei. It wasn't like he'd given up easily. "The best thing would be if we could destroy SEELE without the world finding out that the two of us are angels first, but there's not even a snowball's chance in hell of that. All of them are hidden: the identities of the Committee members are known, but once the first one falls the rest will go into hiding. They're afraid of death: once those old men know I'm coming for them, they'll do whatever it takes to bring us down. They need us for Instrumentality, and they won't give up on getting it: we'll have to get them before they get us, and killing humans will make the other humans see us as a threat. They definitely won't listen if we try to tell them that we're good angels." Yeah, no, that thought was laughable, Kaworu's grin said. "The two of us could maybe become trees somewhere and sleep for a century or so, but what about Shinji?"

"Will they believe that we care about him?" Rei wondered, her hand tightening its grip on Shinji's just slightly, afraid that he'd stop believing she liked him now that he knew what she was.

"If it's their only shot at finding us?" Of course they would. "Those old men are smart: defying them is certain death, but it seems I don't have any other choice." Not when even suicide wouldn't save him from them. "Ten years, and I haven't been able to think of any good plans, so let's not."

"We have to try," Rei insisted. Otherwise, Shinji would die along with everyone else.

"I mean let's not plan," he told her, pleased she'd fed him a straight line. "Let's just grab some food and see if we can get out of here without having to use our AT fields."

"Now?" Shinji asked, startled.

"Well, I have until noon," Kaworu reminded him. "And the closer we get to the preordained time, the more risk they'll figure out I refuse to go through with it and the more men they'll assign to tail me. After eleven hundred at the latest, there's no way we're getting out of Tokyo-3 without a pitched battle."

"And then Misato…" Shinji clenched his fists. Misato hated angels. Misato would send Asuka against them ready or not, conscious or not, if it was her only chance to kill two angels that had hidden among the pilots and kidnapped Shinji. If only there was some way to make Misato listen to them, but Shinji knew he couldn't convince her, and Rei and Kaworu definitely couldn't.

"I could destroy as much of the base as I can while the two of you go," Rei suggested. "Without the Magi," Naoko Akagi's Magi, and Ritsuko's as well, "and the AT field detection equipment, it won't be as easy for them to track us." There were imitations of the Magi, but none of them were the equal of the original system.

"We're not leaving you behind," Shinji insisted, and only Rei noticed that Kaworu looked hopeful when he heard the 'we.' "Isn't Kaworu the one they're expecting to attack the base?" Shinji didn't want them to think that Rei was a bad guy: let Kaworu do it.

"I would rather do it myself," Rei confessed. The labs here: she now almost resented that Ritsuko was the one who got to destroy the dummy plug clones, the symbols of how Rei was only a replaceable slave. What right did Dr. Akagi have to resent how Gendo treated her, when she'd helped him treat Rei like that? "She was just being stupid and dramatic: as long as the equipment is intact, more can be made in a few weeks. Gendo Ikari was only upset because he didn't expect Third Impact to take that long, but if they are given enough time, a vessel could be prepared to capture my soul even if it would take longer for it to be viable outside LCL."

"We have to destroy that system, then," Kaworu agreed fiercely. Knowing that it existed? That SEELE must have something like it waiting for him? He wouldn't let anyone else have their freedom taken from them, their last resort turned into a trap. "You two won't be watched as much as I am: there already isn't much chance I can get out of here without a fight."

"With the power shut down, they weren't able to use the sirens to summon the pilots," Rei recalled.

"So I'll take the power plant out first, and I can use my AT field to jam communications, too," Kaworu revealed, looking more than a little proud of himself even though Shinji didn't know enough about the theory to realize how impressive that was. "I was planning to head right to Terminal Dogma to get it over with, but I can pretend they're actually capable of getting in my way." So the battle could rage throughout the entire facility. "SEELE already me gave maps of NERV's defenses: the Magi are EMP hardened and spread throughout the geofront, but I know what I need to destroy in order to make them unsalvageable. Gendo has Adam, so I should avoid the command room, just in case." Pity.

"Will you be alright?" Shinji asked. Doing all this by himself?

"As long as I can find you afterwards. I can bend light to make myself harder to see in the sky, although it's obvious at close range and using that much power makes it easy to detect my AT field. Still, I think I could sense Rei's field anywhere now." Kaworu knew he already would be considered an enemy of humanity once SEELE realized he wasn't going to be a tame angel: the planet couldn't be any angrier at him after he crashed trillions of dollars' worth of communication and surveillance satellites than they were going to be at him for existing, attacking NERV and posing the risk of Third Impact and global destruction. In for a pound, why not go in for a handful of spare change? "What about meeting up underwater?" Under LCL, rather. "If we want to travel that way, we'll have to bring food, though." For Shinji especially. "And sleep in shifts, but we'll have to do that no matter what."

Rei looked at Shinji, feeling bad for putting him at risk, but he just wasn't safe here. Gendo would be furious with him for not killing Kaworu and for making Rei disobedient. "It's okay, Rei," he told her. "I don't want my father to order me to attack you," or who knew what Gendo would do. "I want to come with you," he said, ducking his head. "Even if I won't be much help."

"You know more about the human world than both of us put together," Kaworu said, sitting up to look at Shinji with a smile. "You know I'm always acting weird," that was why Shinji rejected him, "And Rei isn't human either. We'll need you to tell us how they might react to what we do."

"I'm not going to be very good at that," Shinji knew. Figuring people out? "But I'll do my best." He bit his lip. "Do you think we can rescue Asuka?

Rei assumed her blank mask while Kaworu's expression was the sum of hell and no. Again, Shinji thought he was the one who did weird, random, creepy things? "I thought you wanted Rei to live," Kaworu said bluntly. "Asuka will try to kill us all," and they couldn't afford that while they were on the run. Kaworu would have suggested killing her to deprive NERV of its last Eva pilot and force SEELE to reveal whatever they'd done with their dummy plug system sooner, but he knew Shinji wouldn't react well to that idea.

Eva 02's soul was closed away, blaming itself for failing Asuka. Kaworu knew it would wake up with a damaged Asuka placed inside it, but even a berserk Eva wasn't much threat to him. Rei, though, when she clearly hadn't received training in how to use her AT field?

If someone had to kill Asuka to protect Shinji, it would be Rei, although she'd try to disable the Eva without hurting the pilot.


"Didn't you offer to heal her?" Shinji pleaded. "Maybe you could keep her asleep or something until she's willing to listen?" It was clear that even Shinji didn't think that was likely to happen at all.

Kaworu considered pointing out that he hadn't even properly been repaid for fixing Rei yet: even if he let Shinji's embrace take the place of a kiss, which he was willing to do, Shinji still owed him one more favor equal to killing Kaworu. Not that Shinji knew the details or Kaworu would cash it in on something so relatively unimportant as killing someone else, even if he'd picked up Rei's active dislike of Asuka. "I could put her in a real coma. That would keep them from sending her to attack us."

Rei approved of that idea, it was clear to anyone who'd been around her long enough to begin to learn to read her.

"She really won't ever forgive you then," Shinji warned Kaworu with a look that said, 'seriously?' He almost wished he would be with Kaworu when he attacked NERV, because he really couldn't count on Kaworu not to go overboard or do something weird.

And maybe he wanted to see his father's face. Tell him that Shinji was going to take Rei far, far away from him and make sure she was safe.

Misato stared at the Section 2 agent amidst the rubble of what used to be NERV headquarters before the Fifth Child revealed himself to be the Twelfth Angel and decided he felt like making them all panic by floating around the base pulverizing entire sectors and waltzing right up to Lilith in Terminal Dogma, smirking down at her and the others that came with her in hopes they could do something and saying that "Don't worry, I don't want to merge with Adam or Lilith. I just figured that demonstrating that I could and choose not to was the fastest way to prove it. And I thought that since I am an angel, I should send a message." He smirked, and she wanted to shoot but then she heard what he had to say. "Tell SEELE and Gendo Ikari that the Angel of Free Will is not their pawn. I fought the other angels because I live here too, and only idiots like them believe instrumentality is anything but the death of all souls on this world. If they want to bring about Third Impact, they'll need to go through me to do it. But first they'll have to find me." Then the disc of light a bit under his feet changed and he dropped down into what was probably a Sea of Dirac.

Well, hadn't that put the cat among the pigeons, especially since the AT field that had blacked out all NERV communications had stopped doing that right before Kaworu made his announcement.

The acting commander of NERV (since no one knew where Gendo and Fuyutsuki had gotten to, not to mention Ritsuko had also escaped and gotten her hands on a gun in the confusion) took a deep breath. "What do you mean, Rei and Shinji eloped?"

Since manga!Shinji basically does regard Kaworu as a crazy person, they're not going to fall in love in a single morning without the kind of mind-whammy Rei inadvertently did to Kaworu involved, which obviously brings up consent issues.

However, Campus Apocalypse's cute kind of older brother/younger sister relationship between Kaworu and Rei where both of them basically support the other's crush on Shinji, since Kaworu knows Rei loves him and Rei recruits Kaworu to make Shinji bento, has made my Reimuse a believer in the harem ending. She likes Shinji, and more people to make Shinji happy (unless they try to hog Shinji as Asuka would) is therefore a good thing.

As I've said before, too, the Director's Cut basically establishes that Shinji is bi (and if anime!Kaworu wasn't oblivious to sexuality, the phrase 'My eyes are up here' would have come up during the bath conversation), so really, setting him up with someone who won't take him away from her is very practical. And amusing.