Giftfic for Sakurazuka-Subaru of tumblr, who I offered something specific but then find myself blocked, so they kindly agreed to accept Kawoshin fluff. …instead, this happened.

Warning for… something that happens in Eva. Discussion of suicide.

The angel was humming cheerfully as he rubbed sunscreen onto his arms, sitting cross-legged on a penguin towel under the beach umbrella, part of Misato's extensive stock of beach trip supplies.

Of course any Misato would have coolers.

Shinji was sitting on one of them now as he put sunscreen on his legs, still stunned at the fact that when they ran to the convenience store last night Misato had only picked up two-six packs, one of them in case Kaji and Ritsuko wanted any.

Because there wasn't any beer in Misato's apartment.

And not because she'd drunk it all and hadn't gone grocery shopping. There was a well-stocked liquor cabinet. Misato had packed it in the other cooler and was sitting with Ritsuko and Kaji under the left umbrella, assembling something elaborate with sticks and pieces of fruit, shaking her head at the fact that in a better world, in this world, she'd spent her life with no nightmares of being tossed around by the waves, no hatred of the ocean.

Why hate a blue ocean?

Rei asked Kaworu if he would mind putting sunscreen on her back, since Asuka was already in the water, and Shinji felt a flash of jealousy.

Sunscreen wasn't going to make a difference to how red Shinji's face got when Kaworu asked him if he needed help putting sunscreen on his back.

Lying down on the penguin towel, he was terrified he might make noises in front of Rei and everyone here, but then Misato started up the blender.

"I didn't learn how to cook," she proclaimed cheerfully, coming over holding a big cup not long after Shinji sat back up, "but I did learn how to mix drinks! Virgin strawberry daiquiris," she said proudly, holding it out to Shinji, since he was the closest. "All of you try it, let me know if you want pineapple instead before I start the second batch." She paused, blinked, and said, "You need to let the sunscreen set for a bit, and rub it in before you get in the water," slowly, as though it was a revelation.

Shinji was a lot better student in this universe. Mom had pulled him and Rei out of school, but he wondered if when they went back he'd keep finding out things he'd learned here and hadn't learned there because of how things… weren't as good.

Misato, Kaji and Ritsuko were a lot older, so they kept getting hit with things they hadn't had a chance to know before. Or enjoy.

The police officer shook her head, smiling. "Rei, mind sharing that cup with Asuka?" Misato had put a cup on one of the towels under the girls' umbrella. Rei nodded, and stood up to get her drink as Misato went back to her makeshift mixing table.

He was going to be sharing a cup with Kaworu. For a moment, looking at Kaworu's face as he handed him the cup so Kaworu would drink first, this world faded away around them – the sun, the blue above and in front of them, the other people here to enjoy a sea that was never red.

Here, anyway – so this world wasn't perfect. Somewhere, sometimes, the sea was red as Kaworu's eyes. As the drink that went down his throat. Shinji watched Kaworu swallow and felt strange.

Oh. That was why.

That neck wasn't severed. It was good to see it wasn't, but remembering still made him sick.

"Shinji, Rei… I've called Misato and she can take you for a few days," he remembered his mother telling him, a strained smile on her face. "Kyoko bought Asuka and Kaworu plane tickets, we're hoping it will help if you all get to see each other again."

Help the nightmares.

It was helping, to see Kaworu alive again, and here. To set his lips on the cup where Kaworu had drunk from, wondering at himself that he dared.

The day of Third Impact, and Shinji curled up into a ball and didn't know why. The day of Third Impact, and his mother punched Dad hard enough to break his nose and didn't know why she was hitting him until Rei came when she heard Mom scream for help, that she couldn't stop, and Dad took one look at his daughter and threw up.

Dad – Father – Gendo was in the hospital on suicide watch.

It made Shinji sick to his stomach that he was glad. Glad, because the other Gendo should suffer, and maybe because it meant that the Dad the Shinji who grew up in this world remembered, his Dad really did love him.

"Do you like it too, Shinji?" Kaworu asked him.

Shinji nodded. "I like it you. Too," he said quickly, desperately, ducking his face away.

It had to be courage he'd learned here, that made him glance up to see Kaworu's smile.

"I was worried. You weren't speaking to me very often."

"I like to hear you talk," he said, voice quiet, looking back down. Not embarrassed, but how could he have made Kaworu worry. "I should have spoken up more." Responded when Kaworu said things to him.

"I think we're all off-balance." Kaworu glanced across the adults at the other umbrella. "I'm worried about Mother and Asuka. She sent us here because she remembers attacking Asuka, and Asuka puts on a brave face but she remembers finding Mother's dead body."

"What about you?" Shinji asked, glad he was the last to die.

Not that what happened to him was anything compare to Asuka getting eaten alive, or his little sister killing herself, or Kaworu…

Kaworu stared at him for a moment. "Yes," he said, voice full of wonder. "I do know what it's like to have other people worry about me."

Shinji nodded. "I didn't… I didn't know it then." So now he recognized how Kaworu had been with him, while he could, before the end. He knew, felt what it meant, instead of only knowing it as something rare and strange and precious.

It was something… Something that wasn't only for a night. Something it was possible to have every single day. For his entire life.

"I don't have to remember hurting any of you," Kaworu said, gladness warring with guilt. "I didn't understand what I was doing to you. I didn't understand that someone might value my life, that having to kill me would hurt you. I didn't… I didn't think that anyone would want me alive."

Shinji knew that feeling. And now he knew how wrong it was that someone like Kaworu, even someone like him, had felt that way.

"I was afraid you wouldn't exist here, even though Rei did," and what did it say about him, that it hadn't even occurred to him to wonder about Asuka until she was the one to find Yui in her mother's smartphone (smartphones, this Shinji knew how to work a smartphone) and place the call.

Asuka wasn't an angel. Except that they were all angels. It hadn't made any sense even to the Shinji that heard Misato's explanation, none of anything that had happened in the other world, time, whatever it was made any sense.

Maybe he'd want to think that it was all just a nightmare, food poisoning that hit his entire family… but the fact it was real meant Kaworu was real.

In this world, he'd learned what it was like to have a family that loved him, but Kaworu… in that world, there was something he'd learned that he wanted to keep.