Chapter 1 - Immovable Objects
This was a door, and it was closed.
Misato stared at it, debating whether she should open it or not. She ran her thumb over the pads of her fingers, a slow yet nervous action. She could feel the latch in her hand, the resistance as she slid the panel away. She could see him there. See him on the futon, curled up. In pain.
She could see him.
If the door wasn't there. It was, though. And it was closed.
She tried to form words, but the sound in her throat was hesitant, and strangled. She extended her hand, and let it rest against the panel. It was as though she could feel him beyond the door. The pain, slowly seeping through the barrier, into her fingers. Through her arm, to her heart. Pumping, through the soul. Through the essence of her. Mingling.
"Shinji," she said. She waited, and no response came. "Shinji...you did right. You didn't do the wrong thing."
She waited, but all that greeted her was silence. She pressed up against the door, and closed her eyes. She felt the latch. The panel sliding. And yet...she couldn't bring herself to actually follow through.
What would she do? What could she actually offer him? She played through the scenarios. How could she understand what he felt? She couldn't.
Shinji had killed an Angel. That was a good thing: his pain was something she just couldn't comprehend. It was real, though, and it hurt her. It hurt her because it hurt him.
How could she comfort him? How? She had no options. She backed away. "Shinji," she said, "We'll...talk later. I'm...I'm going to make this better. I'm going to fix this." She nodded, firm in her decision. Yes. She would fix this. She had waffled on whether to follow through, after seeing the names in...his...gift to her. The numbers.
The contacts. All there, in a neat little gift-wrapped package. Waiting for her to...decide.
She decided. Now.
"Shinji, it's going to be better after this. I...I promise." She turned, and left the hallway. She entered her room, sliding the door shut behind her. She took a deep breath, and crossed to her desk. Sitting there was the phone. The Phone. The only Phone. The most important Phone in the world.
The Phone that would change everything. Everything.
She felt a prickling sensation in her hands, a slow sweat beginning in her back. She felt a pain in her stomach, and shivered. She shook her head, bit her lip...and dialed.
The phone rang once...then twice....
There was a click.
"I didn't really think you'd call on this phone," the voice said. It was half-joking, but Misato could hear the nervousness. Hyuga was putting on a bold face. She smiled slightly...thought of replying in kind.
"...Melchizedek," she said, unable to come up with anything else.
"...Really?" The voice was stunned.
"...All right. Everything will be in order when...when you get here."
"Good. See you in a bit." She hung up, and took a deep breath. That was it: the point of no return. They were committed. She closed her eyes, and leaned on the desk.
Now, they just had to see if Kaji's contacts were good for their word.
She dialed the second number. She didn't even have to wait for a ring.
"I was waiting for this call," the voice said.
"I imagine," Misato said. "Melchizedek is in effect."
"I see," the voice said. "I have to admit, I didn't anticipate it coming to that."
"Does that mean you aren't--" Misato began, feeling a rising panic.
"We are," the voice said, cutting her off. "Don't worry about that. It just means things will be...complicated, for a bit."
"It's best that I don't. Just be ready for guests."
"Excellent. We'll see you tomorrow. Be safe until then." The line clicked, and Misato stood in silence.
"No going back," she murmured. "No going back."
Misato exited the room, pocketing the cell phone and running a thumb over the hammer of her handgun. It sat securely in her shoulder holster. Would she need it? Would there be blood today?
Of course. Of course there would. The head of the Tactical Operations had just instigated a coup at Nerv's Tokyo-3 headquarters. A hasty, last-minute coup, dependent upon the good faith of actors on the outside, who Misato did not know. Actors that were brought to her by a dead man's hand.
Of course there would be blood.
She looked back towards the rear of the apartment, and took a mental tally. Rei and Asuka were both in Medical: Misato knew where they were, and if all went well, they would be secured in the hour. Shinji was still here. She bit her lip, honestly thinking she should leave him here. That it would better for him...safer.
All the more chance to run away.
But he hadn't run, and it had broken him. And he wasn't going to run now: there was nowhere left to run. And Misato had already made her decision, so this was pointless quibbling. She was just too scared to do what needed doing. She hardened her expression, marched back to his door, and opened it.
Shinji sat on his futon, his back to the door. He did not acknowledge her presence. He did not seem in the room, at the moment.
Misato didn't call to him, or say a word. She simply entered the room, grabbed his arm, and yanked him to his feet. An involuntary gasp of pain slipped out, but his head hung limp. Accepting.
That hurt Misato. That acceptance, the sense that he was being hauled away to something else. A tool, thrown in the box until needed. She had no words of assurance, no way of dissuading his apathy. She had used them all up.
She dragged him to the front door, and out into the evening air. Down to the car, as they had done many times before. This time was different, though. This was a different trip with a different destination.
The ride was in silence, save for the nervous thumping of Misato's thumbs against the steering wheel. At one point, she detected Shinji's head slowly, inexorably turning to regard the drumming. Some part of him recognized the act, the lack of normality. The newness and strangeness of it. He then turned away, choosing to ignore it.
They pulled up to the outside security gate for the Center, where two guards with submachine guns greeted her. She bit her lip, wondering which set of guards these were. Had things even begun?
Were they over? She glanced to the right, and saw a third guard manning a light machine gun. He wasn't pointing it at her, which was a good sign. He did, however...look tense.
She rolled down her window as one of the first two stepped over. "Good evening, Major," he said.
"Evening," she said. "So...have you had a coffee break yet?" Clunky and hasty pass-phrases. She felt the words like bitter sludge on her tongue, the awkwardness of them.
The guard, to her relief, nodded. "Yes, but there was some spills."
"Haven't had a chance to clean up, yet, so be careful if you go in there." Misato glanced down, the nervousness returning.
They hadn't secured the entire GeoFront yet.
"I was expecting a status update from Lt. Hyuga, but I was an idiot and forgot to charge my phone," she said.
"He's in a meeting with the Commander in his office," the guard said. "You can probably catch up to him there."
That was good news.
Misato nodded, and drove in. As she did, she glanced into the rear-view mirror, watched as the guards broke down the checkpoint and hurried in behind her. That was also good news.
They had not secured the GeoFront...but they could lock it down. They were about to be physically separated from the outside world.
It was after they parked that Shinji began to detect something was amiss. As she exited the car, she heard Shinji mumble, "Misato...." and then go silent. She looked in the direction his head was turned, and saw a greasy brown smear on the concrete. It could be motor oil...or it could blood. It was hard to tell in this light, but the sloppy trail leading away from the patch spoke volumes to Misato.
Shinji said no more, and ignored what he saw. He had registered it for a moment, then put it out of his head. He was done with the world. He was done.
Misato opened his door, and again roughly hauled him to his feet. She dragged him out of the garage, into the bright corridors of the Center. As she did, she was greeted by two more guards. The pungent scent of cordite assaulted her. Shinji squirmed in her grip, recognizing the smell but not knowing exactly what it was. He saw something past the guards and fixated on it.
"Where are we at?" Misato asked.
"We've locked down all vital areas, with minimal casualties. Only two fatalities for us so far," the female guard said. "We're unclear on how many we've taken down, but we can confirm at least sixty. All Section-2."
"Where are the major trouble spots?" Misato asked.
"Misato...," Shinji mumbled again. He seemed to be coming alive, and a sense of dread seeped up through Misato's fingers. She ignored him for the moment.
"We have pockets of resistance in several corridors, and a major attempt to break out at the North Gate. There was also an attempt at one of the comm hubs, but that didn't go too well for them."
"Secured in his office and under guard," the woman confirmed.
"Good. Have we confirmed that no messages have been sent outside?"
"Lt. Ibuki has the nets locked down, and is sending out normal status reports."
"Mi...Misato," Shinji again murmured, pulling lightly at her grip.
"Yes?" Misato finally asked, acknowledging Shinji with gentleness. He was starting to breathe heavily.
"There's something on the floor."
"I know, Shinji. We're going to your father's office right now. I'll explain things there." She ordered the guards to escort them, and followed them past the massive, sticky puddle of dried blood spattered crimson and cruel on the pale, bone-colored floor. Her boots squelched and snicked through the patch, and Shinji stumbled as he slipped on a greasy spot. He went limp again, but Misato did not relinquish her grip.
"It's okay, Shinji," she began mumbling. "It's all going to be all right."
He began to mumble without meaning. He stumbled, and reeled. "Stop," he said quietly.
Misato did not stop, and he did not ask again.
Outside of the Commander's office was a full fireteam, in a state of deceptive relaxation. Their eyes continued to rove the corridor, and their weapons were still in the low-ready. They let Misato through, and she entered the cavernous office beyond the door.
At the center of the room, sitting in his briefs in a single chair beneath a glaring light, was the Commander.
On either side of him were two of Misato's loyalists. Standing near the door was Hyuga. Shinji's legs finally gave out, and rather than hold him up, Misato allowed him to slump to the floor. He curled up into a ball, and stayed silent.
"No trouble?" Misato asked, shucking her jacket and dropping it on the floor. It felt constricting for some reason, and she wanted to shed the sense of claustrophobia.
"Some," Hyuga said cautiously. "Aoba got caught while taking a team to Magi's global hub."
"Beyond being hurt, I don't know the details. He still made it to the hub, though, and is waiting for our signal to cut it."
"Okay. That should be happening in the next fifteen minutes."
"Major, there's something you need to know about the Commander," Hyuga said tensely. "When we stripped him...his hand...." He gave her a hard look. "There is something in his hand."
Misato turned her eyes towards the Commander, felt a dull hardness seep to the surface that required no invitation. She slowly crossed the space between them.
The Commander's eyes were...as they always were. Slightly contemptuous. Neither here, nor there, but somehow...intense. Frighteningly intense.
They did not frighten Misato.
"So...a coup," Gendo Ikari mumbled.
"I should have killed that man sooner." A bile rose in Misato's throat, and she swallowed her hatred.
"So you did? Kill him, I mean."
"No. I was just remarking on the fact that his presence here should have been dealt with decisively at an earlier point in time." Gendo looked past her, at his son lying limp on the floor. "I do not know who killed him."
"That's a discussion for another time, then," Misato grated. She crossed her arms. "It wasn't incredibly difficult, you know...to arrange this. All we needed to do was to show the evidence. The evidence he collected...Kaji. My Kaji." She nodded, owning the name. It was hers, now. No one else's.
"The weak minded are easily swayed," Gendo said indifferently.
"Third Impact was the goal the entire time. We were...fighting to end the world, not to save it." She shook her head. "Did any of you old men really think that we would throw away our ideals at the drop of a hat? That we would...accept that!?"
"All of you are irrelevant to that end," the Commander said.
"For irrelevant people, we sure threw a wrench in your plans," Misato said. "I'm surprised you didn't see this as a possibility."
"It can't be stopped, you know," Gendo said. "It will happen, eventually. It has too. The pieces aren't stacked. They're falling. They've been falling ever since that day in Antarctica. We're just waiting for them to land." He glared at her. "How do YOU want them to land?"
"You don't get it: it's done. We've secured the bridge, the armory, the Evas. We have guards outside of the LCL Plant, and Adam is secured. There is no Third Impact. It is not happening. We will keep fighting the Angels, despite you, and the Committee, and Seele, and all of--"
"You'd let him stay dead?" The calm question stunned Misato.
"All I wanted...all I desired...was to see my Yui again. That's all." He made fist with his right hand. It was trembling in a way that seemed unnatural. "Wouldn't you like that? To see your Kaji again?" He looked up at her. "It's going to happen, Major. You can't delude yourself: it will happen, and when it does...how will you let it occur? To the whims of some old men? To yours?" His head cocked to the side.
"...would you like to see him again?"
Misato's heart pounded in her ears, the echoes of that last recorded message in the back of her mind. This man was a devil that had brought a very tempting bargain. She considered it. She actually considered it. To hear Kaji again, to hold him. The smell of his aftershave, the taste of his mouth. To be held.
To be held.
She turned her gaze to Gendo's right hand. She pointed at it, and one of the guards followed the unspoken command. Grabbed the wrist, raised the arm.
"Jesus wept," she mumbled. All thoughts...all her desires of Kaji vanished in the reality of that sight. "What is...that...thing?"
"It's a key. Nothing more," Gendo said.
"A key? A...that's a...no. No." She shook her head, and loomed over Gendo. "No bargains, no deals, no promises. This is ending. This is over. Seele murdered this world. They raped it. They...raped...it. This is done. Humanity is not your plaything, it is not an experiment...so no. No dice. It's over." She swiped her hands in the air, a motion of dismissal. "Done. Second Impact is Final Impact. There will be no more."
"...then get used to Kaji being a memory, because that's all--"
Misato slapped the man, a backhand that cut his lip. His head turned slightly with the blow, but he stayed silent. He turned his sullen gaze towards her, a simmering rage beneath the eyes, and it struck her how similar this man looked to his son. For a moment, it was as though she was looking at Shinji...at a resentful and hurt little boy.
She turned to Hyuga. "This man is to be isolated. No one has access to him. Clear?"
"And find out what that thing is!" she snapped, pointing at Gendo's hand. Hyuga nodded, and turned to issue order's to Gendo's guards. They hauled him to his feet, and moved him roughly out of the office. Misato was left alone with Shinji.
She sighed, and allowed her mind to decompress for a moment. To shed the confusing and hurtful emotions, to take stock of the situation. To reach equilibrium. She looked down at the boy, lying listless and empty.
Misato knelt down next to him, and laid a hand on his head. "This has to be done, Shinji," she whispered. "They were going to do it. To finish what Second Impact started. We had been lied to, this...whole time. We were being used."
Shinji did not reply. He didn't move under her hand, didn't even seem to be breathing.
"Kaji...Kaji left us the way out. It was what he was doing before...he...." She swallowed. "I couldn't tell you. But...this is to make you safe, do you understand? I'm going to make you safe."
She lifted him to a sitting position. He lolled, limp, like a dead animal. In that moment, as they were alone, Misato felt pain. The sense of utter isolation, of being truly alone. She felt it looking at him. She felt in herself.
She pulled him close, and held him tightly. For a moment, they sat motionless, her nose burrowed into his hair, his face against her shoulder. Then he squirmed. And twisted. And jerked.
Misato continued to hold him. A sharp pain shot through her as the boy sank his teeth into her shoulder. She bit her cheek, but refused to let go. She trembled as his bite became harder, more firm. She felt a warm trickle run down her chest, knew that there would be blood.
She did not let go.
Presently...Shinji did. The teeth retracted from the wound he had made. He went limp once more, but leaned heavily into Misato.
"I'm going to fix this," she whispered. "I promise you I'll fix this." Shinji said nothing, and the blood ran down Misato's arm.