A/N: Its been so long since I've written something poignant. I've been away from my angsty home for far too long. Evangelion 3.0 just aired and I just read a few old fics by JimmyWolk (one of the best writers for Evangelion fanfiction out there.) This is heavily inspired by both A Happier World and The Price of Fame written by him.
Yeah. I realize its disjointed as fuck. I'm no good at oneshots. They never tell all that I want to.
Disclaimer: Evangelion doesn't belong to me.
Follows "End of Evangelion." Not Rebuild.
Our World's Light
"Ahhaa!" Came a small cry from a young child roughly the age of six or seven years. At least two sets of eyes were firmly attached to the girl as she ran around on the playground.
The day was pleasant. Probably as pleasant as possible since the sky was no longer blue. It was warm and the sun burned a deep amber, reflecting off the Bloody Sea to create the red world everyone lived in now.
A new world.
A better world.
"She's growing up quick." Touji Suzuhara commented with a smile as he draped his arm over his wife's shoulder. They sat on a bench in the middle of one of hundreds of parks that had been cropping up all over the dead carcass of Tokyo 3. Not so dead anymore, but it was difficult not to notice the remnants. Impossible to remove some of them. In this particular park a skeletal metal finger stood tall as a tree, climbing out of the new grass.
Children made little bets on who could reach the top. None had yet managed to reach the first knuckle in Touji's memory.
"That she is," Hikaru, his wife of nearly a decade replied. She too had a smile as she stared at the young girl running around and screaming at the neighbor's boy. They were playing some sort of team tag game. Adults couldn't understand, and her partner was not living up to her standards.
It was adorable.
"Baka Ryouji! I hate being on your team! You can run faster, can't you?"
Hikari inhaled sharply, and Touji coughed. The air he'd been breathing suddenly grew heavy in his throat. His eyes were wide. She sounded... his daughter had just sounded like...
"Shut up Asuka! You're just as slow! Bet I catch someone first!" The boy, Ryouji, replied in a heated counter. He ran off quickly after one of the many other children hanging around the park. The difference was enough to bring the two parents back to reality quickly.
Shinji would never have said anything like that...
"She's... so much like Asuka was. It's kinda hard to believe she's never met her." Touji commented. He turned to his wife and stopped as he spotted the tears in her eyes.
"Hey now, don't be like that. Today's a good day!" Touji enacted wildly, drawing the eye of a few of the other parents around him. He didn't care though, as the smile that came to his wife's face was more than enough for him.
Hikari's breath was soft and she wiped at eyes that refused to dry. "You're.. right. I'm sorry its just.."
Touji let his other arm fall around her and she sunk into his embrace, letting out small tears on his shoulder.
"I miss them too."
"It was so unfair, what they had to do. If anyone deserved to live through that... it was them." She cried into her husband's chest.
"Hear that baka Shinji? She says we deserved to live through it."
Out on the playground, smoke flowed in a steady stream out of Asuka Suzuhara's ears. She chased and simply couldn't catch any of the other kids. Her consolation was that Ryouji wasn't having any better luck than she was.
Giving it a strong burst she darted around the jungle gym and snuck quickly beneath a slide. Daika, who'd run around the slide was unprepared for her sudden change in direction. He screamed and jerked away, but was too late. Her hand landed upon his shoulder as she claimed victory, escaping her temporary allegiance with Ryouji.
"Hah! Got you Daika! Hear that Ryouji? I just...? Huh...?" A light sniffling sound touched her ear and she turned back to see her mother crying softly.
She wilted, her joyous victory overshadowed by her mother's tears.
"Mom..." she sighed softly.
"You're it!" Cried Ryouji as he caught her on the back and darted away before she could back tag him.
"Baka Ryouji!" The young girl exclaimed in astonishment, forgetting her mother as she turned and rejoined the fray, her long hair blowing in the wind.
"You deserve to Asuka... All I did was break the world more than it already was."
Hikari lifted her eyes from Touji slowly and kissed him lightly. A breeze seemed to sweep by them.
"You okay?" Touji asked his wife. "We don't have to go to the Reunion if you don't want.
She nodded in the affirmative. "I'm fine. Just... missing them. Moody and emotional like always."
"Need some help?" He asked. "I'm there for you."
She grinned. "Pervert... but. Yeah. Sure."
Touji's body suddenly lit with a white fire. His clothes whipped frantically around him as he allowed the walls to his soul to lower. Moments later Hikari too lit with the same white fire. They kissed, their souls bonding together for a precious moment.
"Says the boy who builds a whole world just so fuckups like me and you can't ever happen. Be a man! Take some happiness for yourself for once!"
It was a few minutes before the fire between the couple faded. Burning white soul became flesh once more. Separation. Isolation. But... Only for a little while.
Meanwhile on the playground, Asuka climbed the jungle gym chasing Ryouji up.
"Can't catch me, Asuka! Biiii!" The boy turned and stuck his tongue out at her before jumping down from the top level and landing in a crouch, only to take off again before Daika could catch him.
"H-Hey... mind if I play...?"
Asuka turned her eyes down to the ground along with the other seven children she'd been running around with to see a newcomer onto the field.
The voice belonged to a young girl, no older than Asuka herself. She was alone, no parents sitting behind her. Her hair was a deep blue, almost black, along with her eyes. Grey and broken. A thing of a dead past. Asuka almost gaped. Her soul... it was so dark. So dim.
"Oh... so lonely. Are you okay...?" she asked, concerned. "You just came from the sea didn't you? Have you found your parents yet? Or did they not come back...?"
"Wh-what? I... I don't know. I've just been wandering around. I saw you playing and I thought..." The girl tried, shyly touching her fingers together.
Touji, freshly recovered from the Union, suddenly spotted the girl who had approached them. "Shit. I thought they'd managed to cover the whole beach by now! Dammit, Hikari there's a Seaborn here!"
"She's the last one. The last one killed by the impacts. We finally pulled every single soul out of Lilith... She's is pretty cute, huh? She died in the third but her soul was ripped to shreds in the second wasn't it?"
"Let me help you..." Asuka said to the deep blue haired child before her. "Baka Ryouji! Get over here! She needs us... I don't think I'm strong enough to bear all that..."
"Touji? Doesn't that girl look familiar...?" Hikari's voice went unnoticed as Touji ran down towards the playground and the children gathering around the new girl.
"No! Asuka stop! That Seaborn is full of sorrow! It's too much for you to–!" Touji's voice abruptly guttered as his daughter burst into the white flame that signaled she was willing to share. Share the pain. The burdens of life. All of it. She would share it with this girl who held so much. She was one of the Lillem. Alone. But never alone. Not anymore.
The midnight-blue haired girl jerked away from Asuka, suddenly frightened. "Wh-what–! Oh my god!" She screamed, horrified by the girl whose body lit with the white fire of her soul.
"Don't worry!" said the fire phantom, dressed in the same clothes that Asuka had been wearing. "Everyone's afraid the first time but I promise... let us help you. You don't have to be alone anymore."
"I-I..." The blue haired girl's hands trailed to the small cross that hung around her neck. She was terrified... but that fire looked so warm. So inviting. The girl was burning before her eyes but it wasn't hurting her at all. Curiosity? Loneliness. She felt so much loneliness.
"Come on..." Asuka gestured with her burning hand. "Take my hand. You'll never be alone again if you don't want to be. What's your name?"
"M-Misato. Misato... Katsuragi."
Touji's run jerked to a sharp stop. "Katsuragi! Y-you're... You're Misato-san!"
Misato didn't even notice Touji. Her eyes were transfixed on the flame touched hand of Asuka Suzuhara. Slowly, tentatively, she reached out.
"Nice to meet you, Misato! My name's Asuka. You seem like you could use a friend or two."
"God these kids are just too cute. Are you seeing this, Baka-Shinji?"
The shy finger touching the flames was all it took. The flame spread to Misato's fingers as if they were covered in oil. She jerked her hand away but that didn't stop it. She screamed. Frantically she waved her hands in the air as the flame trailed up her arm and over her shoulder, but the fire would not go out.
"You can't let go!" Asuka exclaimed, grabbing the girl's flapping limb. She grimaced as the weight of Misato's loneliness began to crush down on her. The girl... she was so very sad. What had her life been before impact to hold such sorrow even after everything?
"Ryouji... help me please?" Asuka asked.
Touji was flummoxed as the boy smiled at his daughter and opened his soul. Short brown hair was licked with flame even as he took Asuka's hand and felt the weight of Misato's pain. He took it and shared it.
Loneliness was an outcast in this world.
A better world.
Touji smiled and shook his head. His silly daughter. Hadn't he taught her better than that? They were supposed to wait for the regulation teams. They could find people to share the girl's burdens. Better, if they were shared with whoever would be taking care of her in the future. Abruptly, Touji realized he wasn't the only parent concerned for his child. Several other parents had shouted out to their own children to no avail. Others were joining their hands, opening their souls so all of them could share the darkness Misato had brought back with her from the Bloody Sea.
"Is it really her? She's so young!" Hikari exclaimed as she walked down to the burning children.
"I... think so." Touji's voice was filled with shock. Misato Katsuragi. The name was practically legend. The commander who somehow reverted third impact when all was lost. Ritsuko would want to know about this. Hell the only thing that would make a bigger ruckus is the pilots themselves walking out of the ocean.
"So... we got them all. What do we do now Baka Shinji?"
Misato's body, now fully covered in flames just as the children around her were, stepped towards Asuka and then found another hand offered. She beamed and accepted Daika's hand.
They formed their circle, and Touji watched as they shared all the feelings. Understanding didn't come with the bond. Only the emotion. The hate. The loneliness. The sorrow. Everything one felt could be shared by anyone. And in turn, they could give their joy. Their happiness. Their love to achieve balance.
Touji couldn't help but feel that Shinji played some part in the new ability granted to humanity ever since he and Hikari had been the first to reawaken on that beach all those years ago.
Misato's felt incredible. She felt Ryouji's happiness. She felt Asuka's irritability with him. Her fondness for the boy hidden deeply beneath it all. Her love for her parents. The happiness of the others flooded into her and she felt joy the likes of which she had never known. In her two hours of this new life, or all the years from her previous one. Awe filled her as her sorrow fled. It still lingered, still pained her. People whose faces and names she could only barely remember left a hole in her heart that she didn't understand. A hole that was rapidly being filled.
"A... mazing... what is this, Asuka?" Misato asked in awe, even as the other girl dropped her hand and began to close off her soul.
The flames licking the sandy blond haired girl flickered and died, leaving her looking normal once more. The other children too began to close off their hearts.
"Its the Union!" Asuka cried. "Uhm... you can turn yours off now though."
Misato, still lit and unaware of how to close her soul, blinked cutely. An adorable little fire-wraith. Asuka giggled. "Oh silly, just feel yourself. Think of closing. Its... kinda hard to explain. You'll get it though!"
"Are you even paying atten– Oh my god, get that damn tape player out of your ears! What are you grinning at!?"
Misato grit her teeth and strained which didn't do anything at all.
"No no! You have to calm down! Think of ending. Closing yourself away..."
"Shinji... what are you doing?"
The blue haired girl calmed herself and closed her eyes. Feeling the magnificent swelling of her soul as the barriers between rose up around her. It was... simple once she figured out the trick to it. Misato felt embarrassed.
"Aww, hey its okay. Niroku over there was Seaborn just a few months ago!" Asuka exclaimed loudly, pointing to one of the boys who had just shared Misato's pain with her.
Misato looked at the other girl, feeling actually even more embarrassed. Could she read her thoughts? Was her heart on her sleeve ready for anyone to see? She looked deeply into Asuka's eyes and found... happiness. Warmth. Small sorrows. A slight tad of annoyance. She could see it all. She could see the emotions the other girl had! It was... was...
"We didn't quite get all of them, Asuka. Thanks... for helping me this last decade. Even after... well. You know."
Touji stood, no longer alarmed now that the Union his daughter had performed was over. That was always a grey area in this new world. Should someone wait until the officials picked up a Seaborn? Let them perform the Union? Or just do it themselves? It was... difficult to see someone who still bore the pain of the old world and not do anything about.
It meant paperwork either way, especially when children were Seaborn. And there was no feasible way to watch the entire beach. Dammit, now he'd have to take Misato to the officials and see if they could find her parents. Or adopt her himself. That... would be a little awkward. There weren't many cases of kids who had been adults before Impact but it did happen. People who had survived the second impact over twenty five year ago but were scarred by it directly in some way had come back fresh as if it were the day before.
But their memories came back quickly. Memories of a time when they were adults. It made for some humorous grey areas in parenting, when children remembered being in their twenties.
Misato would remember him and Hikari eventually.
"But what about you!? Y-You can't do this!"
"No one around to send me, Asuka. Don't worry. I've seen my Canaan, and its beautiful."
Without warning a great Darkness seemed to swell up from the east. Touji could feel it as if it had its own gravitational pull. The weight of something heavy. Something broken so deeply that it might take half the world to repair it. A sorrow that could burn the world.
His eyes shot to the beach just down the road from the park he and Hikari sat in, and he found that all other eyes present had done so.
Something was happening. Something...?
"Shinji! No... we'll go together! Shinji! Baka-Shinji!" the scream echoed across the land. Its piercing cry cut through the shattered remains of dead buildings as easily as it did through the new ones.
"Asuka?" Touji gasped.
He spared half a moment to glance towards his daughter and Misato and the other children. All of them quivered, staring at the ocean in fear of such a prescient darkness. Misato. Only barely aware of her new ability to perceive the soul of others. To face this...? He shook his head. It wasn't right. But then, neither was all that darkness. Was it possible that all sorrow belonged to only one soul?"
"SHINJI!" The cry cut the air again.
Touji ran towards the beach. He was not alone.
"If I left... Ayanami would be alone."
"Then let me stay too! I'll stay with you! Baka third! Wondergirl. I... I'll..."
Touji stopped at the place where the sand met the concrete sidewalk that housed it, staring. Dozens of people came just like him. A world where random acts of kindness was the standard. No one wanted anyone to feel such great depression as this.
And they saw her.
Red plug suit. Aged not a day since ten years ago when Touji had last seen her, shining hair reflected in the red sea of sparkling LCL. The savior of the world. One of three. Her likeness along with that of Ayanami Rei and Ikari Shinji had been carved at the center of Tokyo 3's heart.
She sat on the beach, torso raised out of the water, her eyes burning with soaking tears. "Why... Baka-Shinji-kun... why would you send me out here all alone?"
Touji watched her, unaware of the hundreds of people gathering on the sides of the shore, none willing to step towards the crying girl whose face was etched in all their memories as the savior.
"Come on Asuka... Its my world. No one is alone in it. Now go on... we'll meet again someday. I'm god, after all. And... sorry."
"BAKA!" She screamed. "You stupid... stupid! What about you?!"
Touji wasn't sure who opened their Soul first. All he knew was that it seemed to happen in a moment. Hundred of people grew to thousands. Each running for the coastline, spilling out of buildings and homes, all instinctively knowing that this was something important. This had to be done.
"Wh-what...?" Asuka blinked as she finally noticed the crowd of people, all terrified of the sand. Somehow, with her sitting on it, it felt like holy ground.
She backed away further into the water, afraid. So long had she been invisible to then. Silently pulling souls out of the hulking Mass of Lillith to release them and watch them grow into the people they were. 'S-so many. Why are they all...? They can see me? I'm... not a ghost anymore?'
Touji saw her scramble back a little deeper into the ocean. No one wanted to reach out to her on their own. They were afraid. He wasn't. He'd been an Eva Pilot, too, if only for a short while. Maybe that qualified him. He stepped onto the beach. No one moved, but more and more people seemed to fill in from the streets, lining up along the edge of the beach and opening their souls.
He strode down to the water, feeling a bit nervous with all the eyes on him. Ignoring the LCL filled water, he strode in soaking his shoes and pantlegs. Sunset blanketed the world in red.
"Heya, Asuka. Long time no see."
"T-Touji?" She exclaimed. "Its... Shinji he...? He sent me back..."
"Course he did, ya red-haired devil," Touji jibed. "I always knew he had something to do with this... with everything."
Asuka wiped at her eyes, trying her best to throw him a glare. Her pride ached. She'd been abandoned. Abandoned again... She should've known better than to–!
"You seem like you've got a heavy load there," Touji said quietly. He lowered his hand down to her. "Want someone to carry a little for you?"
The proffered hand. Help. The thing she'd rejected so many times out of fear. Fear of being alone, unloved. Abandoned. Crushed once more. No! She wouldn't! She wouldn't!
"Seems like all you ever needed was a little push. I was so stupid back then. Don't reject this Asuka. I built this world for you, you know?"
A wind seemed to rise from the ocean carrying her hand without her direction. Shinji. Finally being a bit of man. Despite herself she couldn't help but feel a small grin spread across her lips as she linked her hand with Touji's. She'd always wanted the idiot to show a bit of spine. Just like him to do it from the other side where she couldn't get back at him.
Touji lit with fire.
And as Asuka felt her sorrows drain into the collective, into the whole, finally she felt the hole in her heart left by her mother's betrayal begin to close. Finally she felt safe.
"Baka Shinji... I love you."